61st out of 99 books — 2 voters
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This is a wonderful wallow in the lives of formerly well-known literary lions who have probably lost their shelf-life. Eileen Simpson, the first wife of John Berryman,(who?) reminiscences about Robert Lowell, Jean Stafford, Ezra Pound and A. Alvarez, some of the better known. They all had "breakdowns" and spent time in mental hospitals. They all had writer's block and missed deadline upon deadline. They couldn't keep their professorial jobs or any job for long, because they were, of course, POET ...more
Most of these poets I hadn't read (Berryman, Jarrell, Schwarz) or had only read a little (Lowell). There are so many revealing and fascinating stories here, with such intimate detail about the lives of these American poets. In line with Eileen Simpson's best hopes for this memoir, I will be seeking them out: "It pleased me greatly to be told by those who wrote me about my memoir that the book had sent them back to the poetry... I hope this new edition will also send readers to the poems themselv ...more
I was attracted by the title of the book, "Poets in their youth". We read about the 'official' biographies of them but there is always something missing in them. This books is written by Eileen Simpson (John Berryman's first wife); both were part of the group of youth poets come together in the late thirties. She describes the times, the hardships, the friendship, also the breakdowns... All of them, Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, her own husband, etc. went thru manic depression episodes, drinking, ...more
This was a re-read. The first time I read it was for Liam Rector's seminar called something like "Poets & Madness," 8 years ago. A different mindset really changes the reading of it. The book is an almost gossipy love letter to an amazing generation of poets, with a little vein of sadness running through even the funniest and most charming parts, not unlike the poets themselves.
Great to get a sense of what Berryman would have been like to have been around. Some fantastic anecdotes. Simpson has a very clear and engaging prose style, and, it would seem, a diminuitive ego--given how much she backgrounds herself and her own (considerable) accomplishments to allow Berryman and the other Literary figures in their lives to dominate the narrative.
May 08, 2008 Ilze rated it 2 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Recommended to Ilze by: Prof Joan Hambidge
This is the "inside" story of the poets one reads about ... John Berryman, Delmore Schwarz, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, those guys. On the one hand it seems quite a drab lot - as one would probably discover the Bloomsbury group was too - on the other, one gets information that one doesn't read about anywhere else.