Monday, June 13, 2016

Jerome Charyn - A Loaded Gun - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

We think we know Emily Dickinson: the Belle of Amherst, virginal, reclusive, and possibly mad. But in A Loaded Gun, Jerome Charyn introduces us to a different Emily Dickinson: the fierce, brilliant, and sexually charged poet who wrote:

My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—

Though I than He— may longer live
He longer must—than I—
For I have but the power to kill,
Without—the power to die—

Through interviews with contemporary scholars, close readings of Dickinson’s correspondence and handwritten manuscripts, and a suggestive, newly discovered photograph that is purported to show Dickinson with her lover, Charyn’s literary sleuthing reveals the great poet in ways that have only been hinted at previously: as a woman who was deeply philosophical, intensely engaged with the world, attracted to members of both sexes, and able to write poetry that disturbs and delights us today.

My Review

Author Jerome Charyn would make a good detective. I thoroughly enjoyed following him as he hunted down clues about Emily Dickinson. The man certainly moved heaven and earth in order to find the "real" her, going wherever her ghost led him from shadow box makers to ballerinas to daguerreotype dealers and everywhere in between. He traced her footsteps from her sparse bedroom inside the family homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts into the dark, hidden corners of her mind, and still the trail ran cold.

Charyn's agitation at being stymied time and again simmered delightfully off the page, and I felt myself getting disgruntled right along with him. How could such a pivotal figure in American literature, simply hide in plain sight before disappearing into the ether? He states his case in an anecdote about the famed "Uncle Tom's Cabin" authoress, Harriet Beecher Stowe, upon her visit to the prominent Dickinson household. Charyn hypothesizes that the two women, despite sharing a deep understanding about the power of the written word, never actually met. There is no historical record of it, and due to Emily's hermit-like tendencies, it's unlikely they crossed paths. But to think that the greater literary talent didn't receive any of the acclaim the other did during her lifetime, is one of those moments in the book where you lift your eyes to the skies and scream: why?

That's where the source of Charyn's agitation stems from, and I totally understand it. He wants more for her than she wanted for herself. His admiration for her talent, her unique voice, her courage to break boundaries is expressed with unfailing admiration and respect in this homage to her. Writing this book is his way of paying tribute to a genius as he tries to get as close as he can to her, but like every man before him, he fails every time, catching merely a glimpse of her wan face before she fades right back into the shadows.


A Loaded Gun can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble
Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $11.99 ebook, $19.95 paperback
Genre: Literary Criticism
Pages: 265
Release: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781934137987
Click to add to your Goodreads list.





CLICK HERE to read Excerpt One.

CLICK HERE to read Excerpt Two.


Reading Groups

CLICK HERE for a Reading Guide.

About the Author

Jerome Charyn was born and raised on the mean streets of the Bronx. He graduated cum laude from Columbia College. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Rice, was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the City University of New York and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the American University of Paris. Charyn is a Guggenheim Fellow and has twice won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories and articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, Esquire, American Scholar, New York Review of Books, New York Times, Ellery Queen and many other publications. Charyn's most recent books are The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham and Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. His latest book is A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site

Links to connect with A Loaded Gun:
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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