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The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems
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The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  83 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Perfect for the poetry fan who is short on time, The Emily Dickinson Reader offers Paul Legault’s ingenious and madcap one-line renderings of each of Dickinson’s 1,789 poems. Take that familiar chestnut, #314, a la Legault: "Hope is kind of like birds. In that I don’t have any.” Or the classic hymn, #615: "God likes to watch.” As Dickinson herself said in #769 (basically, ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by McSweeney's (first published August 7th 2012)
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Paul Bryant
Nov 12, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I'm lying, I have not read this completely, you have to take it in little sips, as the bee said to the bobolink, but this book is pure GENIUS - as you know it translates Emily Dickinson's poems - all 1,789 of them - into English. The results are ineffable, thrilling, and exactly like what I imagine a completely insane person thinks like. I will give a few examples.

When I'm dead I probably won't move. But if I could move, I'd move my dead mouth to say "Thank you."


It's spring! So how come all the
Aug 13, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy, reviewed, highbrow
I was so very down this evening (rough day at the food pantry trying to comfort people sobbing in despair at finding themselves needing a food pantry) and looking around for something to cheering to read, and not finding anything diverting enough to do the trick. Then I opened my mail & found the latest in my McSweeney's book club subscription waiting for me - this gloriously daffy book providing plain English translations of Emily Dickinson. I sat down & read the whole thing through in ...more
Eric Nixon
Sep 25, 2012 Eric Nixon rated it it was amazing
I'm somewhat of an Emily Dickinson completest. I just wrote a fictionalized book about her, and in the process of researching her life, I purchased every book about Emily I could find. I was pretty surprised a few weeks ago when I stumbled across this at a local bookstore. Actually, what caught my attention first was the art on the cover. Mabel Loomis Todd (the mistress of Austin Dickinson - Emily's brother) painted it for Emily and it was featured on the cover of the very first collection of Em ...more
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Aug 06, 2014 Jeffrey Cyphers Wright rated it really liked it
Zombie incest and flower worship. Very funny and very readable. In line with current practices of deconstructing primary texts to create new, hybrid forms. Full of faux tautologies, mock innocence and bubbly insouciance.
Jan 01, 2013 Sebastian rated it it was amazing
Legault's talent goes beyond boiling Dickinson's poems down to one-liners and does some wonders with the development of character. There is a part of me that wants the real Emily Dickinson to be this maniacal and terrifying hybrid character of woman/poet/necrophiliac/lesbian/zombie/bird/butterfly/bride of Christ.

My only complaint is the shift halfway through the collection where said character flattens out completely, becomes someone different, fleshes out a new (but enjoyable) sort of humor. I
Richard Barrett
Feb 20, 2014 Richard Barrett rated it it was amazing
Jamie Gaughran-Perez
Dec 29, 2013 Jamie Gaughran-Perez rated it it was amazing
Spend a year reading this one, bits at a time. Cross-reference to your favorite originals. Dip back and forth. Keep it on an end table and return to it now and again. It helps you laugh at everything when you need to. It helps you cut to the feeling when you need to. Repeat.
Aug 31, 2012 Lauren marked it as to-read
#314: "Hope is kind of like birds. In that I don't have any."
#855: "Oh you're immortal? Big deal. I'm immortal twice."
#37: I don't know why I am smiling. Something is happening in the dark to make me smile. Possibly this thing is oral sex."
Jan 25, 2013 Cori rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fabulous. Deep at the same time as funny. It's especially great if you're familiar with Emily Dickinson poems.
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Let's be honest. This is the only way I'm ever going to come close to reading Emily Dickinson's poems, isn't it?
Feb 19, 2013 Celeste rated it really liked it
Shelves: return-to
Hilarious, devastating -- much more than just a parody! Excited to sit down and give this book more time.
Oct 18, 2012 Marie rated it really liked it
this is like deep thoughts by jack handey for the Dickinson crowd
Kevin Lawrence
Nov 01, 2013 Kevin Lawrence rated it it was ok
Clever, but for a whole book? Wears its cleverness out very quickly.
Michelle Devine
May 05, 2013 Michelle Devine rated it it was amazing
A bedside re-read at the end of the day. Extraordinary.
Sep 14, 2014 Kit rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recentlyread
a funny one-liner for every poem she wrote.
Courtney rated it liked it
May 22, 2016
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Nov 16, 2015
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  • Short Talks
  • Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
  • The Ghost Soldiers
  • Say Uncle
  • Repair
  • Helen in Egypt
  • One with Others: [a little book of her days]
  • Elegy On Toy Piano
  • The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You
  • Deviant Propulsion
  • Snowflake / different streets
  • Ooga-Booga: Poems
  • Love, an Index
  • The Inner History of Devices
  • Versed
  • Voyager
  • Selected Poems
  • My Uncle Emily

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