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Reading Guide for The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

 

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"I Am Abraham is not only the best novel about President Lincoln since Gore Vidal's Lincoln in 1984, but it is also twice as good to read."
—Gabor Boritt, author of The Lincoln Enigma and recipient of the National Humanities Medal

"Audacious as ever, Jerome Charyn now casts his novelist's gimlet eye on sad-souled Abraham Lincoln, a man of many parts, who controls events and people—wife, sons, a splintering nation—even though they often are, as they must be, beyond his compassion or power. Brooding, dreamlike, resonant, and studded with strutting characters, I Am Abraham is as wide and deep and morally sure as its wonderful subjects."
—Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compassion: 1848-1877

"If all historians—or any historian—could write with the magnetic charm and authoritative verve of Jerome Charyn, American readers would be fighting over the privilege of learning about their past. They can learn much from this book—an audacious, first-person novel that makes Lincoln the most irresistible figure of a compelling story singed with equal doses of comedy, tragedy, and moral grandeur. Here is something beyond history and approaching art."
—Harold Holzer, chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation

"Jerome Charyn is merely one of our finest writers with a polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing. Whatever milieu he chooses to inhabit, his characters sizzle with life, and his sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable."
—Jonathan Lethem

"Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer—so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible."
—Tom Bissell

"The novel… succeeds in making the legendary figure more accessible, using Lincoln's lifelong battle with depression as an avenue through which to explore his life and perspective…. A warts-and-all portrayal, not only of the lead, but of central supporting figures, most especially his tempestuous and difficult wife, Mary. Charyn has managed to craft a fictional autobiography that rings emotionally true."
—Publishers Weekly



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"Audacious . . . Seductive . . . Charyn has never written more powerfully . . . A poignant, delicately rendered vision."
—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

"Smarter than most yet true to the form . . . Daring . . . a mosaic, pieced together from bits of Charyn and shards of Dickinson."
—Caryn James, New York Times Book Review

"My one regret, after finding [Emily Dickinson], was that I would never get to make her acquaintance. No doubt millions of others feel the same. It's for us that Jerome Charyn has written this book."
—William Kowalski, Globe and Mail


         Reading Guide for The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson