Pain, Parties, Work by Elizabeth Winder
Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953

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...Plath turned her “anger inward,” transforming and crystalizing 30 days of pain, parties, and work into a legacy that continues to resonate.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

"I dreamed of New York, I am going there."

On May 31, 1953, twenty-year-old Sylvia Plath arrived in New York City for a one-month stint at "the intellectual fashion magazine" Mademoiselle to be a guest editor for its prestigious annual college issue. 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. She stalked Dylan Thomas and fought off an aggressive diamond-wielding delegate from the United Nations. She took hot baths, had her hair done, and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Young, beautiful, and on the cusp of an advantageous career, she was supposed to be having the time of her life.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with fellow guest editors whose memories infuse these pages, Elizabeth Winder reveals how these twenty-six days indelibly altered how Plath saw herself, her mother, her friendships, and her romantic relationships, and how this period shaped her emerging identity as a woman and as a writer. Pain, Parties, Work—the three words Plath used to describe that time—shows how Manhattan's alien atmosphere unleashed an anxiety that would stay with her for the rest of her all-too-short life.

Thoughtful and illuminating, this captivating portrait invites us to see Sylvia Plath before The Bell Jar, before she became an icon—a young woman with everything to live for.

 

About Elizabeth Winder

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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. She is a graduate of The College of William and Mary and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
 
Published April 16, 2013 by Harper. 293 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Pain, Parties, Work
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Good
Reviewed by ManoflaBook.com on Apr 29 2013

The book does a great job describing the professional environment of 1950s New York City as well as making the month long adventure come to life.

Read Full Review of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia P... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Sheila Moeschen on Apr 14 2013

...Plath turned her “anger inward,” transforming and crystalizing 30 days of pain, parties, and work into a legacy that continues to resonate.

Read Full Review of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia P... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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