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18.11.2014
Elizabeth Winder discusses her riveting portrait of Sylvia Plath, through the lens of the year she spent in New York. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Plath’s death and the 60th anniversary of that summer, PAIN, PARTIES, WORK—words Plath used to describe those New York days in her journal—examines this critical period in her life when she stayed at the famed Barbizon Hotel and interned at Mademoiselle with 19 other girls as guest editors on the magazine’s annual college issue. Investigating the events and experiences of that month, Winder mines fascinating new ground as she draws from her recent interviews with many of Plath’s fellow interns—who share their memories and impressions of Plath—and dispels several enduring myths in the process. As Winder demonstrates, so much changed for Sylvia Plath during that June—her relationships with men, her female friendships, her physical appearance, her sense of style, and her identity as a writer—and capturing that moment in time, as PAIN, PARTIES, WORK does so masterfully, is essential for a better understanding of the person and the artist who would go on to become a literary icon.


Elizabeth Winder is the author of one poetry collection, and her work has appeared in the Chicago Review, the Antioch Review, American Letters, and other publications. Over the next twenty-six days, the bright, blond New England collegian lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended Balanchine ballets, watched a game at Yankee Stadium, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She typed rejection letters to writers from The New Yorker and ate an entire bowl of caviar at an advertising luncheon. There was also the occasional mistake (Sylvia gifted someone Alice and Wonderland which I presume was meant to be Alice in Wonderland.)I can't say I was exactly sad to leave Sylvia -- she's not a woman I think I would have been friends with -- but I do miss Winder's warm portrayal of that heady, busy, sad, stifling summer and the women who worked with her.





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