Saturday, March 30, 2024


HeroinesHeroines by Kate Zambreno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are some disagreeable reader comments about the author's excessiveness in this book, but I applaud its combination of memoir and literary commentary about the women writers who are psychologized and pathologized by their creative male partners, i.e. Zelda Fitzgerald, Vivien Eliot (Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot), Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, June Miller (Henry and June), Sylvia Plath, Anaïs Nin, as well as fictional characters in Virginia Woolf, Kate Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Anna Kavan, H.D., Elizabeth Hardwick'sThe Ghostly Lover, etc. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, the doctor tells the woman writer "to never touch pen, brush, or pencil as long as you live." Kate Zambreno describes "mean reds," fears of abandonment, her IBS and endometriosis, obsessive shopping, and her history of depression and sleeplessness, hence shrinks, pills, hospitalization as one of the "slit-your-wrist girls." She is accused of writing which is too personal, too emotional, too excessive. While some of the stories were familiar, I was sorry to finish this enlightening book and I was grateful for the extensive bibliography of over 150 books and articles about these women's lives. My TBR (To Be Read) quakes under the strain.

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