In Reading Mode: Inside Sylvia Plath's Head

Sixty years after her death, the poet Sylvia Plath continues to fascinate.

In Reading Mode: Inside Sylvia Plath's Head

Sixty years after her death, the poet Sylvia Plath continues to fascinate. Because of her poems, of course, but also because she committed suicide when she was only 30 years old. This novel brings it back to life.

At the very beginning of the book, this warning: "Euphoria is a literary text on Sylvia Plath and should not be read as a biographical exercise". Right off the bat, we have been warned. We stay well and truly in the fiction. That said, the story remains the same. Sylvia Plath, who was undoubtedly one of the greatest American poets, ended up ending her life on February 11, 1963. And to try to identify the reasons, the Swedish writer Elin Cullhed will bring her back to life here during the last two years of his life.

Worse and worse

In 1961, Sylvia and her husband Ted Hughes, who is also a poet, left London to live in the countryside, in Devon. From the outside, you could easily believe that everything is fine: the place is perfectly calm, Sylvia's pregnancy is going smoothly, a scholarship has just been awarded to Ted. But you don't have to scratch for long to see the varnish peeling off.

Because she spends most of her time doing household chores or caring for children, Sylvia cannot write. She even begins to envy Ted, whose career doesn't seem too affected by fatherhood. Moreover, as soon as he is around, the arguments are linked. Not to mention the fluctuations of mood that torment her, because they can plunge her into joy as well as despair.

A daring novel that translates well the torments and the incredible ill-being of this genius poetess. No wonder he was so successful in Sweden.

The trophy

New York businessman Hunter White is aptly named because he loves to hunt. Lion, elephant, leopard... In fact, the only thing missing from his hunting list is the black rhinoceros. But once he arrives in Africa to shoot one, nothing will go as planned and he will have to fall back on a completely different kind of prey... A rather chilling psychological thriller.

The Armenian friend

In this very beautiful novel, Andreï Makine revisits an episode of his adolescence which took place in the early 1970s. He was then living in an orphanage in Siberia and it was at school that he met Vartan, an Armenian 14 year old suffering from a disease that we did not yet know how to treat. And befriending him, the young Andreï will take us into the alleys of the "Bout du Diable".

Dictionary of food writers

Culinographers and gastrologists will parade here in alphabetical order, “that is to say writers who have taken a close interest in good food or the dive bottle”. On the menu, we will have Isaac Asimov, Balzac, Julian Barnes, Agatha Christie, Marguerite Duras, Gustave Flaubert, Jim Harrison, Michel Houellebecq and Haruki Murakami, among others. All filled with delicious anecdotes.

Processed cheeses

For those winter evenings at the cottage, this really is the perfect book. Camembert croquettes, tartiflette, decadent cheddar poutine, reblochon potato tatin, gnocchi au gratin with four cheeses, turkey rolls with mozzarella... Hard, hard to resist all these recipes full of runny cheese!

A deep sleep

In White Forest, Mississippi, August of 1976 was particularly hot. The only public swimming pool in the city having closed its doors, Roberta Lynn, Willet and Pansy went to cool off in the waters of the deep basin of the abandoned quarry which is 3 km from their home.

They should have listened to their parents, who had often told them that the place was cursed. Because that day, something terrible ended up happening: little Pansy, six years old, disappeared without leaving anything behind. No traces, no clues, no body.

It is Roberta Lynn – alias Bert – who tells, and just like her brother Willet, she will long be consumed by guilt. After all, if they hadn't left Pansy unattended to pick some berries across the road, she'd still be here. So Bert can't help but keep looking for answers until she knows exactly what happened to her younger sister.

A story that we savored from the first to the last line. This also applies to all these parentheses that return to the slavery or confederate past of the state.

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