the bell jar

it has been a while since i read a novel (i keep getting stuck at self help or management books). just when i thought i have lost all interest in reading novels (because sophie’s world frustrated me), i got started on sylvia plath’s semi-autobiographical novel “the bell jar”.

the only thing i know about sylvia plath before reading this book was that she was a gifted writer who killed herself by putting her head in the oven and her son nicholas hughes hanged himself earlier this year. stories like these saddens and intrigues me.

i was walking around kinokuniya last month when a copy of “the bell jar” greeted me from the bookshelf. i read the content on the back of the book: –

“working in new york one hot summer, esther greenwood is on the brink of her future. yet she is also on the edge of a darkness that makes her world increasingly unreal. in this vivid and unforgettable novel about the struggles of growing up, esther’s world shines through; the wide-eyed country girls, her crazed men-friends, hot dinner dances and nights in new york, and a slow slide into breakdown.”

i was so drawn to it i bought it immediately.

i enjoyed the book thoroughly. i see glimpses of my neurotic self in some of the pages. i didn’t know it was a semi-autobiography novel but i couldn’t help but read it like it was sylvia plath’s life story. imagine my surprise when i realised it was her sort of life story.

i feel a lot for people who feel a lot about life. the intensity, the sensitiveness and the cynicism that is in their every breath enthralls me.

i just wished they didn’t have to choose suicide.

last week, when i was moody and down, i visited borders to bask among the books. there on a bookshelf was a collection of 200 poems by american poets. i took a copy and flip through the pages before stopping at a poem titled “you’re”.

Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools’ Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.

the bottom of the page cited sylvia plath as the poet.
i gasped.

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