Carl Rollyson's "American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath" is a superficial book that cynically seeks to cash in on Plath's celebrity rather than seeking to illuminate her standing as an American poet. Rollyson states his aims clearly in his introduction when he makes the shallowly plausible claim that Plath is the Marilyn Monroe of American literature. The main basis for this is that both committed suicide and continue to receive obsessive salacious attention.
Rollyson's subtitle says he looks at Plath's art, although he offers little if any analysis of her work, a general requirement of literary biography.
The book received respectful reviews, including praise in The Sunday New York Times Book Review. Once again, the decline in critical standards is revealed. Rollyson's book falls short of the several outstanding literary biographies published in the last few years.
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