A Loaded Gun


Product Details

$19.99  $18.59
Bellevue Literary Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.2 X 0.7 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Sergeant Salinger; Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin; The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt and His Times; In the Shadow of King Saul: Essays on Silence and Song; Jerzy: A Novel; and A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century. Among other honors, his novels have been selected as finalists for the Firecracker Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Charyn has also been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.


Praise for A Loaded Gun

PEN/ Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography Longlist
O, The Oprah Magazine "Best Books of Summer" selection
Philadelphia Inquirer "Spring Ahead Into the World of Books" selection
Nordstrom's The Thread "Weekend Guide" selection
Longreads "Best of the Year: Most Popular Exclusives" selection
Ploughshares "Indie Spotlight: Year-end Wrap-up" selection
Publishers Weekly "Book of the Week" & PW Daily "Review of the Day" selection

"A magnetic nonfiction reevaluation of the mystifying, radical, perhaps bisexual, and maybe greatest-ever American poet." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"In A Loaded Gun, [Charyn] is again out to release Dickinson from the myths that have enclosed her. . . . With essayistic chapters on Dickinson's mother, her dog, her servants, her photographic image, her poetic fragments--Charyn's book is perhaps best viewed as yet another imaginative attempt to get to the source of Dickinson's emotional intensity, and to imagine an 'Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century.'" --New York Review of Books

"Ecstatic. . . . [Charyn] may be the perversely perfect critic for the poet who wandered 'The House of Supposition -- / The Glimmering Frontier that / Skirts the Acres of Perhaps--.'" --VICE magazine

"[Emily Dickinson] will blow the top of your head off, no matter what century you live in. Charyn looks at a lot of ways to see this revolutionary, subversive, explosive genius." --Philadelphia Inquirer

"Less literary criticism than threnody, a bold, loose-limbed, Whitman-like prose-poem lamenting the constrictive previous, but still prevailing, notions of Dickinson and lauding instead a wild woman of words. . . . A Loaded Gun is an invitation to meet Dickinson on the dizzyingly high ground of her imagination from a fellow writer who has done just that with his own writing." --Bay Area Reporter

"An imaginative and unprecedented look at Emily Dickinson that is part biography, part literary criticism, and altogether fascinating." --Ploughshares

"Charyn has followed Dickinson as assiduously as Alice down the rabbit hole. . . . Is Dickinson gay? Read Charyn's fascinating thesis and decide." --Lavender Magazine

"Charyn is a man, a New Yorker, living in the twenty-first century, yet he understands this female rebel from New England like no one else can." --Scranton Examiner

"A Loaded Gun is a fascinating meditation on an individual's relationship to language and her place in the world, and Charyn's quest will appeal not only to poetry lovers and Dickinson fans, but to anyone who understands the joy of immersing oneself in a puzzle to which no definitive 'answer' yet exists." --Late Night Library

"Reading Jerome Charyn sometimes evokes the sensation of seeing Dickinson arise from her poems. . . . [H]e is about the work of enlarging the universe of her person and her poetry while he shows how much more there is still to do in fathoming her depths and contours." --University Bookman

"Charyn is intrigued by the hermeneutics of biography and literary criticism. He is steeped in the work of Dickinson scholars and readers. . . . For Charyn the poems are Emily Dickinson, the vital part of herself that as a woman in nineteenth-century Massachusetts she could only fully express by keeping to herself--not as someone shy of society so much as one who knew society simply could not reciprocate what she had to offer. In other words, Charyn's Dickinson is not agoraphobic, not a neurotic, but a writer in charge of her destiny." --Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

"In his reexamination of Dickinson as a sensitive recluse, Charyn does the influential poetess justice by admitting her ambition. Dickinson's irreverence for grammatical and societal convention made her a revolutionary figure. Charyn gives the writer due credit for engineering her reputation and role, and not being a victim to it." --Nordstrom's The Thread

"A postmodernism-flavored study of Emily Dickinson's life and work. . . . [A] lively reassessment [with] vivid commentary." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A writer obsessed with the Belle of Amherst imagines her rich, sensual inner life. . . . Charyn's ardent sleuthing yields a daring portrait of the elusive 'enchantress' and her world." --Kirkus Reviews

"Charyn explores how the gaps in knowledge about Dickinson's biography and writings contribute to her ever-expanding mystique. . . . [His] inviting prose allows readers with any degree of expertise on the life and work of Dickinson an entryway into her innovative, marvelous poetry." --Library Journal

"A celebrated master of literary voice, Charyn inhabits Dickinson from the first page. . . . [A Loaded Gun] is a gratifying nut of poetic analysis, historical psychology, and the passionate homage of a lifelong disciple of the beloved Belle of Amherst." --Historical Novels Review

"An intense work of literary scholarship. . . . [H]ighly recommended." --Midwest Book Review

"In A Loaded Gun, Jerome Charyn penetrates to the heart of Emily Dickinson, commonly thought to be a gifted but withdrawn spinster. He explores the 'demon' in her, the 'predator, ' and should make readers go back to her poetry with a new understanding of why she still works her spell in our time." --Herbert Gold, author of Still Alive: A Temporary Condition and When a Psychopath Falls in Love

"Jerome Charyn's A Loaded Gun is a staggeringly brilliant meditation on Emily Dickinson's life and work, one that will shatter forever the myth of 'the virgin recluse.' His shrewd and provocative reading of her life, her loves, and her times allows us to understand in new ways just how Dickinson reinvented the language of poetry itself. One of the great and most original storytellers of our time, Charyn takes us deep inside the mysterious power and glory of Dickinson's poetry, and into the strange, bold fearlessness of her outlaw life." --Jay Neugeboren, author of Imagining Robert and The Other Side of the World

"Remarkable insight . . . [a] unique meditation/investigation. . . . Jerome Charyn the unpredictable, elusive, and enigmatic is a natural match for Emily Dickinson, the quintessence of these." --Joyce Carol Oates, author of Wild Nights! and The Lost Landscape

"Provocative, sexy, pulsing with energy, and sometimes outrageous, Jerome Charyn's A Loaded Gun revisits the subject he 'couldn't let go' after completing his novel, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson. Tunneling into the poems, letters, biographies, and works of art inspired by Dickinson, Charyn presents the poet as 'a Satanic, catlike sibyl, ' adept with masks, tricks, and outlaw escapes from convention. Keeping the subjects of the poet's family, religion, sexuality, and poetic 'tradecraft' whirling in the air, he shows us Emily Dickinson as a 'target who never sits still.'" --Susan Snively, author of The Heart Has Many Doors and Skeptic Traveler

Praise for Jerome Charyn

"One of the most important writers in American literature." --Michael Chabon

"One of our finest writers. . . . Whatever milieu [Charyn] chooses to inhabit, . . . his sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable." --Jonathan Lethem

"Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer--so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible." --Tom Bissell

"A fearless writer. . . . Brave and brazen." --New York Review of Books

"One of our most intriguing fiction writers." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"Charyn skillfully breathes life into historical icons." --New Yorker

"Both a serious writer and an immensely approachable one, always witty and readable and . . . interesting." --Washington Post

"Absolutely unique among American writers." --Los Angeles Times

"A contemporary American Balzac." --Newsday

Praise for Jerome Charyn's The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel

"In his breathtaking high-wire act of ventriloquism, Jerome Charyn pulls off the nearly impossible: in The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson he imagines an Emily Dickinson of mischievousness, brilliance, desire, and wit (all which she possessed) and then boldly sets her amidst a throng of historical, fictional, and surprising characters just as hard to forget as she is. This is a bold book, but we'd expect no less of this amazing novelist." --Brenda Wineapple, author of White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

"Daring." --New York Times Book Review

"Audacious. . . . Seductive. . . . Charyn has never written more powerfully. . . . A poignant, delicately rendered vision." --New York Review of Books

"Through a perceptive reading of Dickinson's verse and correspondence, [Charyn's] re-created her wild mind in all its erudition, playfulness and nervous energy." --Washington Post

"Compellingly drawn. . . . I admire Charyn's achievement in lifting the veil of a heretofore mysterious figure." --Los Angeles Times

"Breezily chronicles the chaotic emotional life of Emily Dickinson." --New Yorker

"In this brilliant and hilarious jailbreak of a novel, Charyn channels the genius poet and her great leaps of the imagination." --Booklist (starred review)