By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

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by Elizabeth Smart

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Smart was a globe-trotting journalist until she picked up a collection of George Barker's poetry in a London bookshop and decided to fall in love with him. Grand Central , first published in England in 1945, is a poetic prose recreation of her side of the affair, during which she bore him four children and he remained with his wife. Many will be put off by the self-pitying solipsism of this brief work and by its occasional slips into cliche (``Everything flows like the Mississippi''). At best Smart achieves a sort of neurotic, erotic hysteria, and in part 4 she pulls off an astonishing technical feat, counterpointing the Song of Songs with the hideous minutiae that accompany her arrest with Barker in Arizona for an undisclosed crime. However, this cult book will best suit those whose taste runs to the more maundering Romantic poets. Accompanying the novella is its putative sequel, The Assumption of the Rogues & Rascals , which wasn't published until 1978. This brief work shifts the emphasis toward the concrete and quotidian. As a result, Smart's more poetical conceits seem forced. Robbed of the central focus that her affair with Barker gives the first novel, Assumption meanders dully. (Mar.)

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)

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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If there is such a thing as beauty in fiction, there is more beauty in a reality glazed with poetry and written on the harp of pain and suffering. That suffering comes from the exquisite insight into love and loss that Ms. Smart rends in this, her only true work of prose interspersed with such agonies and poetry, reminding us that life is more than a shell, but a rainbow of feelings not to be suppressed or withheld, but to be called out in the night, heart beating with desire and temptation. The bravery of this writer to depict her own life, miserable, wretched and self-induced, is not only revealing that underworld of 'the affair' but appreciation in living in this world despite agonies and unrequited love. I dare anyone to challenge the beauty and longing this book lays bare, and I would wish that it not be dismissed as fanciful or rhetoric alone, but to be placed amongst the very finest of novels, Madame Bovery, Cheri and the Last of Cheri and Tipping the Velvet among them. This novel will stay with you like coffee and cigarettes, long after the last sip you will wonder, and feel, and feel so much, it is surely a song worthy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept' is an intoxicating and enchanting literary gift that weaves the tangles of a true romantic tale as no other prose has. This book fills the space from which the Author was wanting for a lifetime. Like a cuisinary masterpiece, each word must be savoured and each succulent sentence digested slowly and purposely. I found myself simultaneously mystified and in a state of revelation. If you don't like it, you don't get it.