February 07, 2005 12:00 PM

By Robert Anderson


Since the appearance of Sylvia Plath’s unabridged journals in 2000, no fewer than 10 books have been published about the lives of the poet and her husband, Ted Hughes. These include two novels, one tracing Plath’s last days and another detailing the love triangle of Plath, Hughes and his paramour Assia Wevill from each principal’s point of view. First-novelist Anderson takes a similar tack, only he adds the perspective of a romantic scholar living in New York who has been obsessed with Plath since high school. “I love Sylvia. I resent Ted,” he explains. “Their poems forged my identity. And ruined my life.” Anderson avoids redundancy thanks to his fittingly poetic language and success at connecting the poets with the narrator meditating on their lives. Some might find the prose overcharged and the plot submerged under the rush of language. But Little Fugue becomes a disarmingly original book as its fourth character moves from reader and fan to writer and central subject—proving that Plath’s story is worth telling yet again.

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