The It Doesn't Matter Suit and Other Stories by Sylvia Plath and David Roberts
|The It Doesn't Matter Suit and Other Stories by Sylvia Plath and David Roberts|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Surely the brightest book ever to have Plath's name on, this verges on the adorable throughout with invention and deserves being read aloud on numerous occasions.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: November 2014|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
I've said it before and I'll say it again, that you should always approach classical authors through their least typical, shortest and more individual works – you won't gain much insight perhaps into why they were famous, but you will find more entertainment and greater pleasures by staying outside the canon. And the lovely people at Faber and Faber have a case in point – rather than plough through serious dross from Eliot, why not stick to The Illustrated Old Possum by T S Eliot and Nicolas Bentley? And with Sylvia Plath I cannot think of a better place to start with her oeuvre than with these snappy and delightful pages.
I know I shouldn't appear in public to denigrate the classically-renowned and much-loved major works, but these three items are just too jolly to dismiss as anything inferior. They're harder to find, too, and the fact that two of these were only ever first released in 1996 and 2001 respectively proves it must have been annoying for many people to put down their Bell Jar for the umpteenth time and belatedly find instead these treasures. The title story is perhaps the best, for the simply brilliant repetitive pattern of it. One day a large family of Mama and Papa Nix and their seven sons take acceptance of a suit, but all find reasons to not like it until it ends up in the hands of the suit-less but suit-adoring runt of the litter, Max. Dialogue is in quippy, short lines patterned to make it ideal to read out loud, and the whole thrust of the suit's passage is just brilliant.
We seem to be in a Mitteleuropa land for the second work as well, as the lead female wears a dirndl. Here every implement in her kitchen – a mix of charmingly old and brightly modern – takes umbrage at only doing one job, and fancies at least a day when it can branch out into something new, with calamitous consequences. And we're in fantasy land for the closing poem, first published in the 1970s, which honours the imagination of the bed-bound child, turning her or his furniture into the source of adventure (or just jumping up and down on it manically).
Throughout the writing is fresh, delightful and just adorable. I didn't take to the artwork, and it's heinous to have a typo in a character's name as happens here. But the fact remains that this little volume is a charming insight into the Plath/Hughes household for the scholar, and a book perfectly suited for any young audiences you may know of, and not just the author's own offspring. Whether you agree with me or not on the best way to get the most out of classical authors, I will certainly stand by this book as a case in point, and I cannot see anyone disagreeing with my verdict that this is just warm and certainly most welcome.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
And of course, The Iron Man did not remain completely typical in Ted Hughes' output. The last piece in the Plath reminded me strongly of A Book is a Book by Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins for likewise showing how common household objects can inspire imaginations.
You can read more book reviews or buy The It Doesn't Matter Suit and Other Stories by Sylvia Plath and David Roberts at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The It Doesn't Matter Suit and Other Stories by Sylvia Plath and David Roberts at Amazon.com.
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