The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath
Published by: Cornell University Press
384 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
- ISBN: 9780875807256
- Published: November 2015
Finalist, 2015 Midwest Book Award Chicago Book Review Best Book of 2015 Set in the frozen wasteland of Midwestern academia, The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath introduces Wilson A. Lavender, father of three, instructor of women's studies, and self-proclaimed genius who is beginning to think he knows nothing about women. He spends much of his time in his office not working on his dissertation, a creative piece titled "The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath." A sober alcoholic, he also spends much of his time not drinking, until he hooks up with his office mate, Alice Cherry, an undercover stripper who introduces him to "the buffer"—the chemical solution to his woes.
Wilson's wife, Katie, is an anxious hippie, genuine earth mother, and recent PhD with no plans other than to read People magazine, eat chocolate, and seduce her young neighbor—a community college student who has built a bar in his garage. Intelligent and funny, Katie is haunted by a violent childhood. Her husband's "tortured genius" both exhausts and amuses her.
The Lavenders' stagnant world is roiled when Katie's pregnant sister, January, moves in. Obsessed with her lost love, '80s rocker Stevie Flame, January is on a quest to reconnect with her glittery, big-haired past. A free spirit to the point of using other people's toothbrushes without asking, she drives Wilson crazy. Exploring the landscape of family life, troubled relationships, dreams of the future, and nightmares of the past, Knutsen has conjured a literary gem filled with humor and sorrow, Aqua Net and Scooby-Doo, diapers and benzodiazepines—all the detritus and horror and beauty of modern life.
"Knutsen explores questions of identity and the muddiness of dependency within families.... Ultimately, Knutsen exposes her characters' harshest, most authentic selves as they confront the conflict between responsibility and desire."~Booklist
"Like a seven-act Shakespearian tragedy, honest and absolutely heartbreaking... amazing in its darkness and its light... the writing is incredible."~BULL: Men's Fiction
"An ambitious first novel."~Kirkus Reviews
"I loved this book-it reminded me in some ways of J.D. Salinger's writings and even Plath herself. It is an exquisitely constructed and deeply layered book; insightful, poetic and often tragic, which deals with so many themes that the reader can relate and resonate with."~Chicklit Club
"A blend of tragicomedy and waning romance, The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath explores uncomfortable material. Sharply drawn, claustrophobic settings and strong personalities add up to a promising academic novel."~Foreword Reviews
"A joyous exploration of pain and the price that comes with the refusal to settle, this is a stunning first novel."~Chicago Book Review