TIME Books

Celebrate the New Dr. Seuss Book With a New Fact About the Author

Dr Seuss Holds 'The Cat In The Hat'
Gene Lester—Getty Images Dr Seuss sits at his drafting table in his home office with a copy of his book, 'The Cat in the Hat', La Jolla, Calif., Apr. 25, 1957.

'What Pet Should I Get?' will be released in July

Fans of cats in hats and pops being hopped on learned on Wednesday that a new Dr. Seuss book is on the way: in July, Random House will published What Pet Should I Get?, a manuscript the late and legendary writer likely completed in the late 1950s or early ’60s but never published.

Just a few months ago, several stories that Seuss wrote for Redbook in the 1950s were published under the title Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. In honor of that released, we combed TIME’s archives for some Seuss-ian history, and turned up these five facts:

Dr. Seuss wasn’t necessarily for kids.
The career-making images that TIME cited? An advertising campaign for Flit insecticide.

Dr. Seuss’s wife helped him develop his stories.
Their marriage was financed, TIME reported, by a “cartoon of egg-nog-drinking turtles” that Dr. Seuss sold to Judge magazine in 1927. (Sadly, she died only a few months after that 1967 profile was published.)

Dr. Seuss had no formal art training.
He walked out on “a high-school art teacher who refused to let him draw with his drawing board turned upside down” and that was that. For non-art education, he went to Dartmouth and Oxford.

Dr. Seuss’s early vocabulary was inspired by school curricula.
Many books meant to teach kids reading used standardized lists of basic words that should be known by students of various ages, and Dr. Seuss’ work — despite the fantastical nature of the stories those words created — was no exception. He stopped using the lists when he no longer found them adequate, “because,” TIME explained, “today’s television-viewing children have an expanded vocabulary.”

Dr. Seuss worked on an Oscar-winning animated short film.
Dr. Seuss’s Gerald McBoing-Boing cartoon won the Academy Award in 1951.

Now, in honor of the new story coming to light, here’s another fact to add to the list: Dr. Seuss said that he thought the idea of academic analysis of his work was pretty silly. His books were, as he put it, “logical insanity.”

Read the full 1967 profile of Dr. Seuss here, in TIME’s archives: The Logical Insanity of Dr. Seuss

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: How Game of Thrones Will Diverge From the Books

"Everybody better be on their toes," George R.R. Martin says

George R.R. Martin warned Game of Thrones fans recently that characters who survived in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series that inspired the show might still die on TV. Watch the Know Right Now above to find out more, and read more here.

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Author Warns HBO Show May Kill Off Book Characters

George R.R. Martin says HBO may kill off characters who survive in the books

Bad news for Game of Thrones fans who are sticklers to the books: the series’ author says characters who live on the page are going to die on the screen.

A Song of Ice and Fire series author George R.R. Martin revealed the news at the Writers Guild West Awards on Saturday, Showbiz411 reports. “Everybody better be on their toes,” Martin said, adding that the creators of the HBO show, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss “are even bloodier than I am.”

The popular show returns with a fifth season on April 12, and the network has already commissioned a sixth season. Martin is working on the penultimate book now, The Winds Of Winter, and will then finish the series with a novel entitled The Dream of Spring.

Considering that those two books will tally up to about 3,000 pages, it could be years before fans have a final death tally between the books and the show.


TIME movies

Fifty Shades of Grey Brings in Record Numbers at Box Office

The erotic movie may become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all-time

Fifty Shades of Grey—an erotic R-rated movie based on the best-selling novel by E.L. James—brought in almost $9 million on Thursday and $30 million on Friday, according to Box Office Mojo, which could make it the highest-grossing February debut in history.

MORE: Fifty Shades of Grey Star Eloise Mumford: I Would Never Make a Film That Didn’t Empower Women

Movie experts are predicting that Fifty Shades, which features a sexually explicit relationship between a college student and a business mogul, will gross $91 million over a four-day stretch, surpassing the R-rated movie Passion of the Christ, which debuted in February 2004 and made $84 million.

It also could become the highest-grossing R-rated debut of all-time. Matrix Reloaded currently holds the top spot with almost $92 million made in its opening weekend in 2003.

TIME Books

The Top 10 Fifty Shades of Grey Quotes Readers Couldn’t Get Enough Of

And now you can enjoy them again

While Fifty Shades of Grey dominates theaters this weekend, it’ll be easy to forget that the E.L. James erotic novel on which the film is based is quite the work of writing: flip to any page and it’s clear that James’ style—My inner goddess is swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm—is truly a force of nature.

Every sentence is more or less quotable, but Amazon rounded up the top 10 most highlighted quotes from Fifty Shades’ Kindle e-book edition. Here’s a glimpse of which lines readers loved so much they just had to save so they could read them again:

  1. “Because I’m fifty shades of fucked up, Anastasia.”
  2. “A man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”
  3. “‘The Flower Duet’ by Delibes, from the opera Lakmé.”
  4. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
  5. “‘Villa Lobos,’ an aria from Bachianas Brasileiras.”
  6. “Men aren’t really complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said, when really it’s obvious. If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”
  7. “It’s called Spem in Alium, a forty-part motet by Thomas Tallis.”
  8. “‘Chopin. Prelude opus twenty-eight, number four. In E minor, if you’re interested,’ he murmurs.”
  9. “He’s … taciturn.’”
  10. “No, Anastasia, it doesn’t. First, I don’t make love. I f*** … hard.”


Fifty Shades of Grey and How One Sex Act Went Mainstream

A cultural evolution, from 'Fanny Hill' to 'Fifty Shades'

In 1976, a survey was distributed to American women through magazines like Cosmopolitan. The questions it asked were personal — very personal — and the answers, compiled in The Hite Report, were a landmark insight into female sexuality. Women were asked to describe their experiences, desires and disappointments. In a 1987 story, TIME praised the report’s author, Shere Hite as “the doyenne of sex polls” and “liberator of the female libido.”

(Read more from TIME’s archive on Shere Hite and her research on sex in America.)

In their anonymous responses, women vented and raved about both sexual practices and social attitudes. One of the findings that might shock audiences today, however, was actually one of the least “free love” of all. Buried in the section about receiving oral sex (and not even listed in the index), was a question about fellatio. One woman’s comment (expressed in blunter language than can be used here): “I would consider [it] with a loaded gun at my head. No other way.”

Reading that line, I wondered where that woman is now. Perhaps she’ll be one of the millions of people off to see Fifty Shades of Grey this week: the story of a young woman’s sexual awakening in which said act accounts for some of the tale’s least provocative moments. Advice about it is now a staple of Cosmopolitan today; indeed, today’s readers are told that it’s basically “the kickoff…for sex.”

How did attitudes change, and so quickly? As recently as the 1970s, this was certainly not something that a gentleman would expect. Today, the act is something more like bread before dinner: noteworthy only if it’s absent.

But there’s more to the history behind that change than a simple move toward permissiveness — and, it turns out, the ubiquity and “standardness” of fellatio is perhaps not as widespread as one might believe.


Fellatio has been happening for as long as humans have been around, and there are references to it from ancient Peru and classical Rome. Cultures and religions, however, have not all taken—and still do not take—the same attitude towards it.

I went to the Kama Sutra, thinking that would be an obvious starting place for historical ideas about the topic, but its discussion of fellatio is fairly brief, associating it with dirty and loose women. (Interestingly, the Kama Sutra spends much longer on the erotic quality of using one’s fingernails to impress dents in a lover’s skin.)

That classic of the dirty book canon, 1748’s Fanny Hill, makes no reference at all to fellatio, which suggests it wasn’t something commonly offered in London brothels at the time (or else that it wasn’t something that the clammy-handed readers of smut novels were expected to want). In American legal texts of the early 1900s, fellatio was clearly for fellas. The statutes referring to it, originally falling under the vaguely defined idea of “unnatural acts,” were about catching gay men. Hetero oral sex tended to get passing references in pre-World War II sex manuals, the kind that talk about the need for a man to “instruct” his presumably virgin bride. Apparently some healthy couples indulged in this kind of thing, the message ran, but it’s not part of most people’s repertoire. In 1919’s Sexual Truth Versus Sexual Lies, Misconceptions, and Exaggerations, the author wrote that cunnilingus and fellatio “are very common in the less worthy marriages.”

In his 2000 study, The Social Organization of Sexuality, sexual behaviorist E. O. Laumann theorized that oral sex became more popular in the 1920s. Laumann’s surveys, which describe the sexual histories of various age cohorts, show a big jump in oral sex right about the time when the baby boomers started hooking up. The sexual revolution brought fellatio into the public consciousness, via its most famous practitioner, Linda Lovelace.

Despite the counter-cultural frisson of the subversive act going mainstream, there’s indication that not everyone was on board with it at this point. Women started to write about fellatio, but as something they merely did, much more rarely as something they enjoyed. The narrator of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1974) references it, unpleasantly. Indeed, as Samantha, the most liberated of the group on Sex and the City, consoled a friend, “there’s a reason it’s called a job.”

The act is barely depicted or mentioned in mainstream films at all before the 1990s, when the act itself became a well-known activity in the Oval Office. Bill Clinton made famous the notion that fellatio is “not sex”, and 60% of teenagers today agree with him. (The idea that it is “not sex” could go part of the way to explaining why people tend not to use protection for it.) At the time of the Starr Report, Newsweek warned readers that some of the activities described would make readers “want to throw up”, which does suggest that their readers in the 1990s (or at least the editors at Newsweek) were still not of the view that the President’s predilections were “standard.”


Even today, the “everyone’s doing it” attitude that prevails in sex writing is not entirely accurate.

Perhaps the reason we’ve come to believe that everyone is into oral sex is because it’s most common among white people, and it’s white sex writers who are saying that it’s universal. Yes, 75% of white college women reported in 2001 having done it at least once, according to a 2001 study called “Race, gender, and class in sexual scripts,” but only 56% of Latina and 34% of African American college women say they have. (Of these groups, only 55, 46, and 25%, respectively, describe performing fellatio as appealing).

Other research over the last twenty years bears out these ethnic differences. Among college students in the ’90s in Canada, whites were more likely than Asians to participate in oral sex. In the U.S., a national survey in 2002-2003 of women ages 15 to 44, showed that 84.3% of white women had engaged in fellatio at least once, while only 60% of Hispanic women, and 57.4% of black women had. (That’s “ever in your life,” not “regularly.”) That study’s authors found that whiteness correlated highly with practicing oral sex: “White race, age of 20-44 years, being married and having higher numbers of life time ex-partners were related to having ever given oral sex.”

In addition, though the act is much more common than it once was in mainstream films and TV, not every pop-cultural depiction has caught up with the idea that it’s standard. In some cases, it’s still used as shorthand to suggest that the man receiving it is a jerk. He’s an adulterer, a corrupt cop, or from Wall Street. The message to viewers is disregard for these scumbags mixed with (depending on the film) some level of reluctant admiration for this jerk who manages to be on the receiving end. The message is generally less mixed for the woman involved. For her, the transaction is degrading. Even Tony Soprano thought that it was only for a certain type of woman: when asked why he had a mistress, he explained that his wife “kisses my kids with that mouth.”

In the 2013 film Don Jon, which is hilariously honest about casual sex, the main character describes his girlfriend (played by Scarlett Johansson) as too hot to need to give oral sex—as though that were something only unattractive women have to do, to compensate for their other failings.

Indeed, fellatio is often seen in pop culture as the act of a desperate supplicant begging for favor (see: every single joke ever about a woman earning a promotion on her knees), a source of homophobic innuendo or simply as some kind of punishment.

So how can something that almost “everyone” is doing also be something bad? After a century of rapid evolution in attitudes toward fellatio, we’ve arrived at the warped mindset that something that is seen as degrading and awful is also often seen as obligatory for straight women — and perhaps made even more disturbing by the fact that we ignore the people who prove it’s not obligatory at all.

These cultural differences and paradoxes are ignored in the “this item is standard” mindset. I spoke to several friends while writing this piece, and one told me of having the offer of fellatio declined: the man is from a culture where that just isn’t done. By normalizing a predominantly white practice—and not even one that all white people do—the message is “your culture is having sex incorrectly.”

It’s hard to reconcile a sex-positive attitude that was supposed to allow women freedom to express their needs with the mindset that says oral sex is compulsory. In fifty years, fellatio has gone from a niche (and in many places illegal) sexual activity—which at least would have offered the frisson of an illicit thrill—to something not only normal, but also presented by mainstream culture as obligatory.

And as attitudes toward the one act have changed, that progression has perhaps created space for other acts to move from niche to mainstream (see porn, Internet). And other formerly-rare practices among heterosexuals seem to be heading towards that tipping point. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. If you’re looking for a hint that bondage and sadomasochism have breached the mainstream, how about an R-rated movie that breaks ticket presale records? Though Anastasia Steele’s oral-sex choices might have once scandalized audiences, today they’re just filler before the real action begins.


Killer Business in Russia

An investor turned activist outfoxes oligarchs

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Bill Browder may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s No. 1 foe. For the past several years the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management has led an international campaign to expose deep corruption and human-rights abuses in Putin’s Russia. His efforts culminated with Congress’s 2012 passage of the Magnitsky Act, which forbids gross abusers of human rights in Russia from banking in or visiting the U.S. It’s named after Browder’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blower who was murdered in a Moscow prison in 2009 after uncovering massive Russian government fraud.

Before he became an unlikely human-rights activist, Browder was for a time one of the largest foreign investors in Russia. In the tumultuous years following the fall of the Soviet Union, he made a fortune for himself and his clients by confronting some of the country’s corrupt oligarchs. But in Russia, shareholder activism could be dangerous work, as Browder explains in this excerpt from his new book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Search for Justice.

In 1939, Winston Churchill made a famous speech on whether he thought Russia would join the Second World War: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

Fast-forward to the present, when Russia’s erratic behavior is terrifying the whole world. Churchill’s observations about Russia still apply, but with one big proviso. Instead of the national interest guiding Russia’s actions, they are now guided by money, specifically the criminal acquisition of money.

I can attest to this firsthand. In 1996 I’d started an investment fund in Moscow called the Hermitage Fund, in partnership with the billionaire investor Edmond Safra. We had a spectacular initial success. It was the best-performing fund in the world in 1997, up 718% from inception with assets of more than $1 billion.

But our success would all be thrown into jeopardy in January 1998 when we collided with the corruption Russia is so famous for.

It began that month at a New Year’s party, where I confronted Boris Jordan, one of Russia’s leading investment bankers, about a financial scheme called a dilutive share issue that was going to steal $87 million from my fund.

He met me head-on with a meaty handshake. “Bill, how are ya?”

“Not great, Boris. What’s going on with Sidanco? If this share issue goes through, it’s going to be a real problem for me.”

The fund, together with Safra, had invested heavily in an undervalued Russian oil company named Sidanco which had gone up eight times in one year, making the fund and Safra more than $100 million. After this big win, Boris’ boss, the billionaire oligarch and former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin, decided that we shouldn’t have that money. Boris and his colleagues threatened to implement this dilutive share issue, which would nearly wipe out our investment.

Boris didn’t want a public confrontation at a New Year’s party, so he said, “Bill, it’s all a big misunderstanding. Don’t worry about a thing.” He turned his attention to a tray of canapés and picked one up. Avoiding my gaze, he said, “Tell you what. Come over to Renaissance tomorrow at 4:30 and we’ll sort it out.”

I took him at his word and tried to enjoy the party. The next day at 4:30 p.m., I walked into Renaissance Capital’s headquarters next to the Moscow River. I was unceremoniously shown to a windowless conference room. I was not offered anything to eat or drink, so I sat there and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I was ready to leave when the door finally opened–only it wasn’t Boris. It was Leonid Rozhetskin, a 31-year-old Russian-born, Ivy League–educated lawyer whom I’d met on a few occasions.

“I’m sorry Boris couldn’t make it,” Leonid said in English. “He’s busy.”

“I am too.”

“I’m sure you are. What brings you here today?”

“You know what, Leonid. I’m here to talk about Sidanco.”

“Yes. What about it?”

“If this dilution goes forward, it’s going to cost me and my investors–including Edmond Safra–$87 million.”

“Yes, we know. That’s the intention.”


“That’s the intention,” he repeated matter-of-factly.

“You’re deliberately trying to screw us?”

He blinked. “Yes.”

“But how can you do this? It’s illegal!”

“This is Russia. Do you think we worry about these types of things?”

I couldn’t believe this. “Leonid, you may be screwing me over, but some of the biggest names on Wall Street are invested with me. The pebble may drop here, but the ripples go everywhere!”

“Bill, we’re not worried about that.”

We sat in silence as I processed this.

He looked at his watch and stood. “If that’s all, I have to go.”

Shocked, I tried to think of a reply and blurted, “Leonid, if you do this, I’m going to be forced to go to war with you.”

He froze, and I did too. After a few seconds he began to laugh. What I’d said was preposterous and we both knew it. Go to war? Against an oligarch? In Russia? Only a fool would do that. When Leonid was finally able to contain himself, he said, “Is that so? Good luck with that, Bill.” Then he turned and left.

I was so upset that for several seconds I couldn’t move, and when I finally could, I shook with humiliation and anger. I marched out of Renaissance into the freezing Moscow night. When I got home I called Edmond. Nobody likes to lose money, and he was a notoriously bad loser. When I finished telling him the story, he asked, “What are we going to do, Bill?”

“We’re going to fight these bastards, that’s what. We’re going to go to war.”

“What are you talking about, Bill? You’re in Russia. You’ll be killed.”

I gathered my wits. “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But I’m not going to let them get away with it.” I didn’t care if I was being brave or stupid, or if there was even a difference. I’d been backed into a corner and I meant what I said.

“I can’t be part of this, Bill,” he said, safe in New York, 4,650 miles away.

I was not safe, though, and it filled me with adrenaline. “Edmond, you’re my partner, not my boss. I’m going to fight these guys whether you’re with me or not.”

He didn’t have anything else to say and we hung up. I didn’t sleep at all that night.


By the next morning, regret and uncertainty had crept into me. But when I reached my office, a rush of activity shook me from my thoughts. Packed into the room were more than a dozen heavily armed bodyguards. The one in charge came up to me and in an Israeli accent pronounced, “I’m Ariel Bouzada, Mr. Browder. Mr. Safra sent us. We have four armored cars and 15 men. We’ll be with you for as long as this situation lasts.”

Apparently, Edmond was going to fight with me after all. But how in hell was I going to fight an oligarch?

I assembled my team and we devised a plan. Our first step was to call all the Western investors who did business with Potanin and explain the details of what he was doing to us. Our message was simple: If you don’t stop him, you could be next.

Every other time foreigners got ripped off in Russia they would attempt to figure out how to resist. But then their lawyers and advisers would point out that retaliation was infeasible and dangerous, and after all the tough talk, they would slink away like wounded animals.

But this wasn’t every other time. I was never going to let Potanin get away with this without a fight.

Less than a week later, Boris called, irate and rattled. “B-Bill, what the hell are you doing calling our investors?”

I tried to sound as calm as possible. “Didn’t Leonid tell you about our meeting?”

“Yes, but I thought you understood the score.”

I continued to play along, praying that my voice wouldn’t crack. “What score?”

“Bill, you don’t seem to understand–you’re not playing by the rules!”

With a steadiness that surprised even me, I said, “Boris, if you think I’m not playing by the rules now, wait until you see what I’m about to do to you next.” I didn’t wait for his response and hung up, exhilarated. I’d won Round 1.

The next part of our plan was to make the story public. I got in touch with a reporter from the Financial Times and shared all the details. She devoured every word and promised that the article would be big. She contacted Potanin to get his side.

Because we were in Russia, Potanin had no choice but to escalate. His response was along the lines of “Bill Browder is a terrible and irresponsible fund manager. If he had done his job properly, he would have known I was going to do this to him. His clients should sue him for every penny he’s worth.”

It was an admission of his intent to screw us, and it was on the record.

The FT published the story, which was then picked up by the rest of the financial media. Over the next few weeks, Sidanco’s dilutive share issue became the cause célèbre in Moscow–along with bets on how long I was going to survive.

With so much coverage in the press, I decided to file a complaint with the Russian Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (FSEC). Pressured by the high profile of the story, the commission’s top official, a remarkably uncorrupted man named Dmitry Vasiliev, announced that he would take up the case. But investigations into Russian corporate malfeasance were virtually unprecedented, and I had no idea how Vasiliev would act.

Unbeknownst to me, Edmond wasn’t willing to wait. He had dispatched his main deputy, Sandy Koifman, to Moscow to negotiate a settlement with Potanin behind my back. I found out about this only by chance when one of my brokers spotted Sandy in Moscow.

I immediately called Safra’s chief legal officer in New York. He was embarrassed but said, “Bill, I’m sorry, but you’re way out of your league here. This is serious business involving a lot of money. I think it’s best if you let us take over from here.”

He may have been right if this were the U.S. or Great Britain, but this was Russia. I replied, “If you show even the smallest sign of weakness to these guys, our investors will lose everything, and that will be on you.” I asked for more time to see what would happen with the FSEC. I got 10 more days. “After that, if nothing’s happened, we’re taking over.”

The following days ticked by without so much as a peep from Vasiliev. On day six, Edmond’s lawyer called and said, “Look, Bill, we promised you 10 days, but nothing seems to be happening. We appreciate all that you’ve done, but it’s not working.”

The next morning I dragged myself into the office with the intention of controlling the damage. Only I didn’t have to. Without any warning, a fax arrived with a printout of the front page of the Financial Times. The headline read, Watchdog annuls sidanco bond issue. Vasiliev had shut down the whole thing.

Russia Retaliates

That was it. I had won. I’d met the oligarch in the prison yard and earned some respect. More than that, I’d learned how to fight the Russians, who weren’t as invincible as they seemed.

With my new sense of self-confidence I went after the oligarchs proactively. In the subsequent years I exposed corruption at Sberbank, Unified Energy Systems and Gazprom with similar success. It turned out that Vladimir Putin, who’d come to power in 2000, had the same set of enemies as me. The oligarchs were stealing power from him and money from me. Every time I went after an oligarch Putin would mobilize the authorities and slap them down.

It seemed as if it was all too good to be true, and it was. Early one morning in October 2003, as I was running on the treadmill in my apartment watching CNN, a breaking headline came across the screen saying that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man, had been arrested.

Khodorkovsky had broken Putin’s golden rule: “Stay out of politics, and you can keep your ill-gotten gains.” Khodorkovsky had given millions of dollars to the opposition parties for the upcoming parliamentary elections, and he had begun to make statements that were clearly anti-Putin. Putin had to make an example out of him.

Khodorkovsky was put on trial, convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison. During the trial, Putin did something unprecedented: he allowed TV cameras in the courtroom to film Russia’s richest man as he sat silently in the defendant’s cage.

After Khodorkovsky was found guilty, I think most of Russia’s oligarchs went one by one to Putin and said, “Vladimir Vladimirovich, what can I do to make sure I won’t end up sitting in a cage?”

I wasn’t there, so I’m only speculating, but I imagine Putin’s response was something like this: “Fifty percent.”

Not 50% to the government or 50% to the presidential administration, but 50% to Vladimir Putin. I don’t know this for sure. What I do know for sure was that after Khodorkovsky’s conviction, my interests and Putin’s were no longer aligned. He had brought the oligarchs to heel, consolidated his power and, by many estimates, become the richest man in the world.

It didn’t take long for Putin to turn against me. In November 2005, I was expelled from the country and officially declared a threat to national security.

I thought I was done with Russia, but Russia was not done with me. Everything that had happened up until that point involved money, but what I couldn’t imagine was that in the ensuing years, Putin’s personal vendetta against me would see people close to me imprisoned and dead as my conflicts with Russia metastasized and spun wildly out of control.

This appears in the February 23, 2015 issue of TIME.
TIME Books

Joan Rivers’ Daughter Writes a Book About Her Life

57th GRAMMY Awards - Premiere Ceremony
Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images TV personality Melissa Rivers attends the The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Feb. 8, 2015 in Los Angeles.

Melissa Rivers' The Book of Joan arrives May 5

Joan Rivers’ daughter Melissa Rivers has written a book about the late comedian’s life, her publisher announced Wednesday.

The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation will contain “funny, poignant, and irreverent observations, thoughts, and tales about” Joan Rivers, who died last September after complications from surgery, People reports. It comes out May 5.

“In our family we always believed that laughter was the best medicine,” Melissa said Rivers. “I wanted to write a book that would make my mother laugh. I hope it makes you laugh, too.”

Read more at People

TIME People

Why Some Blamed Poetry for Sylvia Plath’s Death

Grave Of Sylvia Plath
Amy T. Zielinski—Getty Images A photograph of Sylvia Plath (1932 - 1963) on her grave at St Thomas a Beckett churchyard, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, May 5, 2011.

Feb. 11, 1963: Sylvia Plath commits suicide

What drove Sylvia Plath to her death was painfully clear to her psychiatrist: clinical depression. But after the acclaimed poet, just 30 years old, committed suicide on this day, Feb. 11, in 1963, her friends, fans, and biographers were eager to blame the tragedy instead on a flesh-and-blood villain.

There were several contenders to choose from. The most obvious was her estranged husband, the poet Ted Hughes, who had recently abandoned Plath and their two young children to run off with his mistress. The fact that his mistress committed suicide six years later, just as Plath had done — by putting her head in an oven and turning on the gas — underlined his guilt in the eyes of the Daily Mail and many others.

TIME took the Freudian approach, and in its review of the poetry collection Plath produced in her final months alive, points its finger at her father, “an intellectual tyrant” who was a professor of entomology at Boston University. (In true Freudian style, it also implicated Plath’s mother, “a metallic New England schoolmarm.”)

TIME offered as evidence a scathing centerpiece of Plath’s final collection, Ariel, a poem that ends, “daddy, you bastard, I’m through.” “‘Daddy’ was its title; its subject was her morbid love-hatred of her father; its style was as brutal as a truncheon,” the review notes. “What is more, ‘Daddy’ was merely the first jet of flame from a literary dragon who in the last months of her life breathed a burning river of bale across the literary landscape.”

It’s possible, of course, that Plath’s parents played a subtler role in her death, by giving her the genetic makeup that predisposed her to depression — or as the Daily Mail suggests, less subtly, a “suicide gene.” If so, it may have been passed down to another generation. Plath’s son, Nicholas Hughes, who was barely a year old when she died, also committed suicide, at 47, following a lifelong battle with depression.

Depression aside, some saw poetry as the weapon at work in Plath’s undoing — among them Plath, who wrote, “The blood jet is poetry; There is no stopping it.” In the months leading up to her death, she wrote feverishly, hemorrhaging words, barely sleeping. “Most of the night she wrote ‘like a woman on fire’ — two, three, six complete poems night after night,” TIME attested. “Her fire was black and its name was hatred. Her words were hard and small like missiles, and they were flung with flat force.”

The poet Robert Lowell, Plath’s onetime teacher, concurred. In his preface to her poetry collection, he writes that Plath’s poems “play Russian roulette with six cartridges in the cylinder.”

Read TIME’s first review of The Bell Jar, here in the TIME Vault: Lady Lazarus

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