Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Plath Anniversary Gravy Train

Every now and then, after going on about my business for a while, I dip into various online worlds of past idols. Today, did a random search for "Sylvia Plath," only to discover that I've really been missing out! The 50th anniversary of her suicide is coming up (February 11), and, with it, a couple of apparently (according to reviews/articles/covers) cheesy new biographies:

American Isis by Carl Rollyson (released today)
Mad Girl's Love Song: SP and Life Before Ted Hughes by Andrew Wilson (to be released 2/3)

I also discovered a memoir, "Ted and I," released last September by Ted Hughes's older brother Gerald. Now, Gerald was the older brother who left home early for Australia. Up until he met Plath, Ted was still talking about joining him there. Post-Plath, Ted was still coming up with business schemes that he and his brother could collaborate on. Gerald ignored them all. He almost completely disappeared from brother Ted's life when they were both very young men. Until now, that is!

Oh, and then there's Hughes widow Carol on 1/15/13 announcing her own upcoming memoir:

Quote from above article:
Speaking from the home they had shared in North Tawton, Devon, [Carol Hughes] said: "I had a wonderful 28 years with Ted and I hope to record them for posterity."

Can't wait for THAT page-turner! :)


Carl Rollyson said...

Here is one definition of gravy train: gravy train - definition of gravy train:
An occupation or other source of income that requires little effort while yielding considerable profit.

I have been writing biographies of literary figures for 30 years. The hours of research in archives, the travel to interviews, the hours of constant drafting and rewriting means that I'm working for below minimum wage. I write about my subjectts because I feel passionately about them. If I'm on a gravy train, then someone forgot to pass me the gravy.

Beth Austin said...

I do consider releasing a book about Plath upon the 50th anniversary of her death--despite showing no interest whatsoever in her work up until this point--to be an attempt to hop on the 50th-Anniversary Plath Gravy Train.

I also consider the publishing of some 40 books (as your website says; many of them ePublished) to indicate a SEVERE lack of in-depth thought/research going into each of said books.

It all sounds more like you're just churning stuff out by rote.

Carl Rollyson said...

I've been teaching Plath for twenty years and wrote two pieces about her long before I thought of doing a biography. Do your homework.

Carl Rollyson said...

Many of the self published books are collections of previously published criticism. Some of the books are co--authored. Do your homework.