Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl By Donald Sturrock (Simon & Schuster, 655 pp., $30) Roald Dahl, the beloved laureate of modern children’s fiction, who often boasted of his uncanny access to the seven-year-old mind, who preeningly referred to himself in old age as a “geriatric child,” did not actually get around to following his agent’s advice and writing a children’s book until he was well into his forties. Even then he did so grudgingly, and only because his short stories for adults were not selling.
The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Bad Parenting By Alice Miller Translated by Andrew Jenkins (W.W. Norton, 207 pp., $23.95) A decade or so ago, in The Culture of Complaint, Robert Hughes cited various cultural phenomena as symptoms of a rampant idiocy in American public life. He reserved particular scorn for the popular movement known as "recovery": As John Bradshaw, Melody Beattie and other gurus of the twelve-step program are quick to point out on no evidence whatsoever, 96 percent of American families are dysfunctional.
Borrowed FineryBy Paula Fox (Hentry Holt and Company, 210 pp. $23) Despite having been recently re-issued with introductions by modish writers such as Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Lethem, the six dense little masterpieces that make up Paula Fox's fictional oeuvre still have not penetrated the mainstream. It is unlikely that they ever will. Fox is a tough writer. Even her most devoted fans are often tentative about recommending her work to their friends. She specializes in humid domestic tension, alienation, anomie. She is a poet of appalling moments.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath edited by Karen V. Kukil (Anchor Books, 732 pp., $18) Saturday exhausted, nerves frayed. Sleepless. Threw you, book, down, punched with fist. Kicked, punched. Violence seethed. Joy to murder someone, pure scapegoat. But pacified during necessity to work. ... Baked a lemon meringue pie, cooled lemon custard and crust on cold bathroom windowsill, stirring in black night and stars. Set table, candles, glasses sparkling crystal barred crystal on yellow woven cloth ...