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Dark Sparkler

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  995 ratings  ·  149 reviews
The lives of more than twenty-five actresses lost before their time—from Marilyn Monroe to Brittany Murphy—explored in haunting, provocative new work by an acclaimed poet and actress.

Amber Tamblyn is both an award-winning film and television actress and an acclaimed poet. As such she is deeply fascinated-and intimately familiar—with the toll exacted from young women whose
Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Harper Perennial
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Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, arcs, read-in-2014
Amber Tamblyn's third volume of poetry, Dark Sparkler, examines the lives of actresses who died before their time (sometimes long before their time). Tamblyn covers a wide range of actresses - from Sharon Tate to Marilyn Monroe, from Brittany Murphy to Peg Entwistle - and includes an epilogue of more personal poems about the "business." Interspersed with her poems are original pieces of artwork by the likes of Adrian Tomine, David Lynch, and Marilyn Manson.

I'm definitely a fan of poetry, but I
These really didn't work for me. They didn't feel personal. Many of them were written in the first person, but since so many of them followed the same basic facts - young woman, thrust into fame, under pressure, struggles with the cruelty of celebrity, takes life or is killed by partner) - they all kinda blurred.

Imagine you find a picture on your friend's dresser. You ask them about it and your friend tells you a story of one of the most intense days of their life. You write a poem about it.
Anita Dalton
My reaction to this book is one of my typically long, circuitous discussions. If you have the time, you can read the entire thing here. If you'd like a shorter snippet, here you go:

This collection reminded me in many ways of Mikita Brottman’s short story collection, Thirteen Girls. I found myself curious about all the women in this collection, as I did when I read about the women who fell to serial killers in Brottman’s penetrating look at victims and the ways they are remembered. The titles of
Nidah (SleepDreamWrite)
Been trying to read a little more poetry. This one I kind of like. Some of the names I heard of and others I looked up. Interesting read.
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
5+ out of 5. In the introduction, Diane di Prima suggests that as you read you might get curious about the women referenced here. I can attest that, indeed, you will. You will read this collection and you will wonder about Peg Entwhistle or Laurel Gene. And you will google them. Just like you'll google Amber Tamblyn, because you will want to see that she is, in fact, okay. And you will take comfort in that - comfort in the knowledge that not all stories have an unhappy ending. It's the same ...more
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
No one is more skeptical than me when it comes to actors-turned-writers (I'm looking at you, James Franco). But I was really, happily surprised by Tamblyn's style. The poems are visceral, the imagery is surprising and evocative, and the styles of the poem vary in interesting ways. I loved that I could read up on each actress in the book as I read, giving the already strong poems many more layers of depth and meaning. You can tell that Tamblyn put a lot into this book. I'm definitely planning to ...more
Alyssa Lentz
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is one of the most gripping collections of poetry I've read in a while. I'm so impressed with not just the cohesive nature of Tamblyn's book, but the way each poem feels so specifically personal and haunting. You'll spend a lot of time on Google getting to know these women and their stories, and feeling a whole range of emotions fresh every time you read the next poem. Highly recommend.
Halley Sutton
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I've got a lot of feelings about this book, so bear with me Goodreads. (Or hide my reviews! Whichever.) It's a very interesting idea for a book, recounting the stories of all the actresses who died young, particularly given Tamblyn is an actress. (I'd feel some sort of bad for putting that up front instead of the fact that she's a writer and a good one, except that it's entirely up front in this project, it has to be, there's no other reason that this exists.) It did bring up some small ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's something both magical and lurid about this compendium of Hollywood actresses, many of whom were lured by the dreams and wrecked by the cruel business of the Tinseltown star factory. Tamblyn knows the industry better than most, a second-generation actor whose performances brought her leading roles in television and in feature films; she grew up in entertainment and sees it from an inside perspective that is haunting and illuminating. The meat of this provocative and fascinating ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This was ... a weird one. I'm not a fan of poetry (as I've said over and over again) but I've been taking an online poetry workshop in an attempt to better understand it and either that's helped or this was way better than my previous forays into modern poetry. Sure, the concept, while interesting at first glance, gets a bit repetitive after a while and a lot of the poems sound like they could use a lot more work but overall, I liked the imagery that the author's managed to create and I loved ...more
John Lamb
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am positive I can't give anything higher than 2 stars to book of poetry that contains this line about Brittany Murphy: "A pill lodges in the inner pocket of her flesh coat." Flesh coat? Eek. Inspired by the tragic ends of young actresses, each poem tries to be insightful but feels more exploitative than anything. Proof: one poem is told from the perspective of Sharon Tate's unborn child . . . as Tate was being murdered. No thank you.
Melody Vig
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Loving these poems! I won this book and was lucky to be a first reader. Just like the author suggests, I am anxiously googling and obsessing over the women I am reading about in this book.
Charlene Nelson
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: to everyone
Recommended to Charlene by: my daughter
I really loved this collection of poems and the unique way Amber told these stories of deaths of many young women actresses. The artwork, which goes along with each poem is very descriptive. I recognized most of the named women and enjoyed the way Amber tells their story and leads you to their cause of death. She has a way of bringing the reader into the moments before these talented women's lives ended and you get caught up in the highs and lows of what is lost. Many of the young women left us ...more
Victoria Chang
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I would give this book a 2.5. It shows promise and I was attracted to the idea of Amber writing poetry. It's stronger than James Franco's book, but the real test was whether the author could convince me to have a stake in these poems and at the end of the day, almost. Amber has potential as a poet and should keep on working at it. She seems like a deep and thoughtful person living in a really weird and sometimes horrible industry. So glad she is writing poetry!
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it
So I got this book because I never heard of it and she was supposed to be a speaker at a reading festival in my area. I like how she tried to give each actress her story and it's clear this book took a lot of research. With the exceptions of Marilyn Monroe and Sharon Tate, who I only know of because of how they died, I had never even heard of any of the actresses in here. To see this many young actresses all gone, many not known to me and probably others and all dying tragically is very ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Amazing! A few months ago, I watched an interview Amber Tamblyn gave to AOL Studios and since then I've been really curious about this book. It's the first time I read something written by her and I'm so impressed! She has her own writing style. I think the subject was very interesting too. I thought I would feel sad reading this kind of poems, but I didn't. The sadness I felt wasn't the one that usually make people wanna kill themselves, but the one that makes them wanna change the world and ...more
Emelie Gaughan
I fell down the Wikipedia rabbit hole with this one

What a riveting collection of poetry. Amber Tamblyn is a well known child star in her own right and has continued to be present in many kinds of films/roles as she has grown up. Over the years, she has written poetry and even published two previous collections. The most incredible part about this particular book is the depths she went to to be able to bring an artistic vision to these long-forgotten, heartbreaking and sometimes misinterpreted
Laura Chapman
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was intrigued by the subject matter when I read an article about this book of poems. Now that I've read it, I'm even more intrigue.

Many of the poems are raw and devastating. (I audibly gasped on a few occasions, because what I read or saw so stirred me.) And like Tamblyn while creating this work, I found myself obsessively reading more on the actresses featured (previously known to me and unknown alike).

And while the subject (and admittedly the author herself) drew me to the work, what
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a really quirky, honest, and creative book of feminist poetry and discourse. While it focuses on the lives of young females in Hollywood, it really transcends to all females.

Because I'm not familiar with many historically famous actresses, I felt the need to do my own research on these famous women before/during/after reading the poems. I NEEDED to learn more. This is one of the genius things about the writing in this book - it isn't flowery or over-the-top "poetic", but weaves in facts
Memento Mori:
A reminder of mortality.
ORIGIN: Latin.
Translation: Remember that you must die.

-Last page of Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn.

I might sound like a masochist but I love reading depressing books when I am depressed. It must be the 16 year old in me that refuses to die. Oh, well, that's a bad phrase. However, I digress, as I understand it, this Amber Tamblyn's third poetry collection but this is my first collection of hers I've read. Boy, is it a doozy.

Dark Sparkler is a bleak memoria of
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this in the middle of the night when I had insomnia. It was beautiful and ugly and disturbing and haunting.

Tamblyn is a new to me poet (I discovered her while watching The Increasingly Bad Decisions of Todd Margaret, which is ironically one of the most misogynistic shows I've ever seen. It was coincidentally, created by her husband, David Cross.) I thought this was a very strange dichotomy (or the joke was lost on me) which lent an even more acerbic voice to her words. It's also possible
Kelly Hager
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of poetry honoring actresses who died in unfortunate (generally tragic but not always) ways. Some of them I've heard of and some were vaguely familiar and some, of course, I had absolutely no idea who they were. That's almost the beauty of this collection---it brings these women back to life and, hopefully, will encourage people to learn more about them.

Obviously I know Amber Tamblyn as an actress (she's actually been in some of my favorite movies) but she's a really
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I LOVED Dark Sparkler. The first half was good, I whipped through it maybe a little too fast for my enjoyment's sake, but when I picked it up a second time, again at the halfway mark, it started taking flight for good. it SOARED, for me. it got progressively more and more excellent, extending into the epilogue section where you get to see into Tamblyn's process creating the book and relating to the women she wrote about. I reached the last poem and was gutted that there were no more.

Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poême
Sad and intriguing collection of poems distilled from the tragic lives of actresses, some quite obscure (I had trouble finding them with Google - there's an 8pg list of search terms consisting of actress' names and deaths, many of whom died young and holy dude will that take a bit to go through and reconcile with those poems based on actresses I couldn't find initially).

Included in and around those poems based on real women are anxieties that Tamblyn herself must share with these women - the
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2015
my husband heard about this book on "pop culture happy hour" and told me "you like tragic females! you should read this!" so i did. i read it with my ipad on my lap so i could google all of the famous actresses that i hadn't heard of before. i would definitely suggest this as a way to better understand some of the imagery in the poems.

i wasn't really sure about the epilogue where tamblyn includes some of her own emails. is she throwing herself in with the tragic females because she thinks that's
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book of poetry by Amber Tamblyn, the star of the "Joan of Arcadia" TV series and also of several movies. Each one of these poems is about the final moments of a particular person who died before their time. Most are actresses, many not well known, but you can look them up on google, which makes you want to read the poems all over again. But that's not just a marketing gimmick. The poems are very well written and poignant. A few recognizable people are included such as Sharon ...more
Apr 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
One of the nominees for the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards.

While I loved the concept of this book, googled and read about every single of the names, I absolutely hated the poems themselves. It's like the author just took bits and pieces on the info on the actresses from wiki, threw that in the poem and then added alcohol, drugs, sex, lots of nonsense, mixed it all up and spit out a "poem".

Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a bit iffy on whether this classifies as non-fiction and gender politics, but I'm sorting it there for the time being.

"I'm told Galileo wept at how big his hands looked, how small they felt, while pointing at the stars."
Maggie Gordon
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Dark Sparkler is a cutting book of poetry about feminism, fame, and the way that society devours young women. It's experimental and deeply poignant. I want to return to it with the time to go through and research each of the actresses mentioned as I think that will make it even more enriching!
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another gut-wrenching poetry bleed from Amber Tamblyn. Beautifully devastating, her work is much admired.
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Amber Tamblyn is an author, actor, and director. She's been nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film, including House M.D. and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Most recently, she wrote and directed the feature film Paint It Black. She is the author of three books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed bestseller Dark Sparkler, ...more
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“Your career has another five years, maybe, she says, if you’re lucky. According to who? I ask. According to every actress who’s come before you. So I turn my focus to every actress coming after me. I” 3 likes
“No one should have to look back to see
the bright future ahead of them.”
More quotes…