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Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  4,271 ratings  ·  196 reviews
I lay there alone in bed, feeling the black shadow creeping up the underside of the world like a flood tide. Nothing held, nothing was left. The silver airplanes and the silver capes all dissolved and vanished, wiped away like the crude drawings of a child in coloured chalk from the colossal blackboard of the dark.

The writings in this collection outline Plath's early
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 9th 2001 by Faber and Faber (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  4,271 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Katie
Oh, Sylvia. Thank you for showing me that talent isn't the same thing as genius, and how some people have to struggle for the former until they fall into the latter. And how is it that you were just as effective at throwing me headlong into writing now, at 24, as you were at 15 when I had never before tried? I'm sad to put you down, but this is the last work of yours there is for me to read in the world. Now, more than ever, I wish you hadn't put your pretty little head in that oven. I want more ...more
Steven Godin
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Every day from nine to five I sit at my desk facing the door of the office and type up other people’s dreams. Not just dreams. That wouldn’t be practical enough for my bosses. I also type up people’s daytime complaints: trouble with mother, trouble with father, trouble with the bottle, the bed, the headache that bangs home and blacks out the sweet world for no known reason. Nobody comes to our office unless they have troubles. Troubles that can’t be pinpointed"

My second Plath in a week, but
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ted Hughes warned in the introduction “This collection does not represent the prose of the poet of Ariel, any more than the poems of the Colossus represent the poetry of the poet of Ariel” and of course he was right (after all he did know Sylvia better than you and me)

This collection of short stories is a slap to everyone who considers Sylvia Plath just a great poet. Here she proves that she is capable and extremely talented at writing something other than poems. The writing is so unique
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends with everybody
Recommended to Mariel by: sisters with everybody
Maybe a mouse gets to thinking pretty early on how the whole world is run by these enormous feet. Well, from where I sit, I figure the world is run by one thing and one thing only. Panic with a dog-face, devil-face, hag-face, whore-face, panic in capital letters with no face at all- it's the same Johnny Panic, awake or asleep.

Dream by dream, thief by crook into the book. While I sneak onto goodreads to read an update or two before the creepy turtle that plagues me figures out he has something to
Reviewing this collection of posthumously published ephemera in 1979, Margaret Atwood called Johnny Panic "a minor work by a major writer." Unfortunately, that perception has stuck for nearly thirty years now, leading to the rather unfortunate conclusion that Plath was less than successful in her attempts at the short story. That presumption does a real disservice to the stories in this collection, which by any other standard than the towering accomplishments of Plath's own poetry, are ...more
Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams is a wide collection of Sylvia Plaths short stories and a few of her personal diary entries. My reading experience of it was quite the roller coaster, it has stories I absolutely adored, paragraphs that I read dozens of times and will read in the future, but most of the pieces were simply okay. Brilliantly written, yes, they just didnt make feel much and some went way over my head - I couldnt figure out what was the point of them. The stories started to feel ...more
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love the title story; it is by far my favorite. I just love how I feel like I'm tagging along silently next to her as she works in the medical office. Her words just roll off of the page here, and I can feel all of the hard work she put into making her descriptions perfect. I also feel immense envy, as I wish I'd written the story myself, so painfully real are her descriptions of her waking life.
Next up, I admire 'The Comparison' for its concise description of the differences between a novel
Dustyn Hessie
I am sad to hear that people think “The Bell Jar” is a better work of art than this collection of short stories, calling it “lackluster” and “mediocre.” I think people read Plath’s short stories incorrectly. You have to really read into them in order to really grasp these stories. Not all of these stories are amazing, but some are incredibly unique, unlike any of the other short stories I’ve ever read. “The Bell Jar” was a fair piece of work, but there are plenty of authors who have exceeded her ...more
As a huge Sylvia Plath fan, this book was interesting to me for a multitude of reasons. Several of the stories, especially the title story, are fantastic stand-alone short stories without any previous knowledge of Plath's work. However, for me, the really interesting part of this was reading some shorter works and seeing themes and motifs that come up in her poetry and The Bell Jar, such as numerous references to Lazarus. Lady Lazarus is a masterpiece and one of, like, three poems that I can ...more
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ignore the hideous, 90s, "multicultural" cover applied to this text in an effort to make classic female authors hip. Hard as it is, pull your eyes away from the horror.

Instead, focus on the meticulous, suffocating power of Ms. Plath's prose. Her poetry in Ariel and The Colossus and Other Poems evokes images of women scorned, scorched, and yet lulled into complacency and love by their micro-worlds.

The same is true here, but it's spelled out for you, in shocking detail. Plath gets you nice and
Paula Bardell-Hedley
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Collaborative Book-Blogging

I enjoy taking part in book blogging jollies, but seldom find time to give them my wholehearted commitment. This year alone there have been tempting readathons and readalongs for Iris Murdoch, Muriel Spark, Agatha Christie and Persephone Books, to name but a sprinkling. Sad to say, I haven’t signed up for any – until now.

I recently spotted a post about the forthcoming 1977 Club; an event hosted jointly by Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Stuck in a Book from the
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just re-read this book. It was my first foray into Sylvia Plath and totally got me hooked. Although her topics are ordinary, it's the way she writes about them. I feel like we learn so much about her through her characters and storylines. I really enjoy her unique way of looking at ordinary things. It was definitely a memorable read.
Roxana Dreptu
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As haunting as ever, even if in short installments, Sylvia goes out to reach me in unfathomable ways.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Fucking Ted Hughes, man. The dick writes an introduction to this collection about how hard writing was for her and how bad she was at it. He takes his intimate knowledge of Plath's ideas and insecurities and uses it to criticize her work.

I'm not a literary scholar. I'm not a writer with a clear, developed sense about the purpose of a short story or what makes one "good." But I have read a lot. He calls one section the "more successful short stories and prose pieces," and then the other section
Eve Kay
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started and finished this monster collection of short stories with the title story, and ultimately one of my favourite short stories of all time, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. To describe it in mere words is obscure. Words are not enough. You need a whole heap of feeling, thought and passion, over anything else, passion. All that is Plath's masterful talent of penmanship comes to life in this story: The use of language, the enfolding of a world of dreams, it's connection to all that is ...more
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sylvia Plath is an amazing writer. Her poems are sometimes too chilling so I take enjoyment in her prose. Just because she writes in prose doesn't mean she is blunted. Her short stories are fierce, tense, and tautly wrapped up with memorable characters and unpredictable plots. My favorite would have to be the Johnny Panic story, of course, it was an ending that I could not ever forget. Even many years later, I still sometimes think to myself the last lines of that story and let myself savor the ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l-like-library
Each of these stories are incredibly powerful in their own way and Sylvia Plath continues to amaze me with her writing, her mindset and just everything.
Rachel Stevenson
It’s been over twenty years since I read the Bell Jar, Arial, and Bitter Fame, so I can read this book as it what it is, essentially a collection of short stories. Curated by Ted Hughes, the pieces don’t follow a chronological order, so you can’t follow Plath's progression as a writer, but instead they are sorted into More Successful Stories, Other Stories, Notebook (nothing too damning about Mr Hughes), and juvenilia. So you start off with stories that are wonderful: the title story is a horror ...more
Sharn Dhah
I wanted to disregard the introduction by Ted Hughes, to mistrust his evaluation of his late wife's prose writing, his estimation that short story writing was her greatest professional challenge, and that she was dismayed at her own attempts. At odds with herself, she is determined to write objectively yet ends up writing mostly thinly-veiled autobiographic stories. Hughes is absolutely correct in his analysis, however. Her journal excerpts written about acquaintances can be cruel and ...more
Crisa Valadez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aman Mittal
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Being endured by an obsession with Sylvia Plath, I had waited too long to get my hands on this book. This is book is interesting for a multitude of reasons. The main reason being it’s Sylvia Plath’s proses, not poems. Previously, I have read The Bell Jar and her Journals, and certainly I was more fascinated by her journals rather her only novel.

This collection of her proses, short stories and a few pieces from Cambridge notes which were sad but alsoenthralling, written in time and some
Sep 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat conflicted about this collection, only because had she not died and become a major author posthumously, these would have for sure been kept locked away somewhere or tossed out. However, being the fascinated-by-Sylvia-Plath poser that I am, I just loved seeing how her journal entries just writing very descriptively about the day or someone's home or a person she ran into, translates into fodder for a story. The creative process is so interesting, in part because I feel like I don't have ...more
May 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll qualify my review by first saying that I love Sylvia Plath's work. I really do. Her poetry is magnificent in it's incisiveness.

Her short stories, however, are a bit hit-and-miss. A few, like the title story, All the Dead Dears, The 59th Bear and others are really quite good, and carry some of that incisiveness and amazing language of her poetry. Others just feel a bit like an exercise.

The journal entries are interesting as far as putting some of the ensuing stories in perspective, but I
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was amazed to find out that there was a collection of some of Sylvia's short stories. Her fiction writing is so unlike her poetry, novel, and journal writings that one might easily forget that this is Plath. There are tell-tale signs that this is Sylvia, still; such as word-choice, which Sylvia has stock words and phrases that set her apart from the rest. People forget that her short story writing is what jumpstarted her career as a writer, and it's easy to see why in this collection. I highly ...more
Plath has an honesty in her journals that I only wish I could have. You have to be brave to write that candidly, and then to know that it was published after her death? It's kind of eerie. I think you only reach that level when you're under the assumption it's just for you, it's just to release your fears and ego and pain.

But it's beautiful.

Her stories are also beautiful. I was especially taken reading her journal about her and Ted's stay with the Widow, and then reading her short story on it,
Sylvia is such an exquisite prose writer, too bad I can only digest a few stories a day - that's the trouble with short stories! Even her diary entries are so much different from what/how people normally write. She's able to turn banalities like the neighbors' lives into fine pieces of prose or a landlady in Benidorm into a delicious latino character that even Almodovar would envy.

Now I really have to try her poetry.
Oct 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Search for this book and then look at the reviews, everyone is either "HOLY SHIT THIS IS GOOD" or "This book changed me in ways I'd rather not revisit" or something like that. (Subjugation to the real social idolatry, DEAL WITH IT) So far, I'm enjoying it. Also, my book doesn't have a picture of sylvia plath on the cover, so maybe that's why I'm not yet prone to wax apocalyptic about it.

Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm the biggest Sylvia Plath fan and this book of her short stories is excellent. Each one draws from her life experiences but it's Sylvia's imagination and engaging writing style that give them a pulse.

The title story, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, is a particularly good one that you won't forget in a hurry.
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, classic
I only read threee of the stories in this book, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, The Shadow, and The Daughters of Blosson Street. They were all filled with metaphors and symolism that were clearly ment to make a impact on your trade of thought, as they did mine. In a way they are very dark yet they tell no more than the trueths of life.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gah Sylvia. This collection was good. Really really something else. Plath's prose is just as sharp as her poetry and her stories present a domestic world that is at times strange and dangerous. I loved Mr. Prescott, Stone Boy, All the Dead Dears, Johnny Panic. These stories burst with life, wit, and that darkness that inevitably surfaces. I will come back to these again and again.
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Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot
“So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them."

“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” 270 likes
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