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Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds
Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds | Lyndall Gordon
48 posts | 5 read | 46 to read
In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother Austin began a passionate love affair with Mabel Todd, a young Amherst faculty wife, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. The feud that erupted as a result has continued for over a century. Lyndall Gordon, an award-winning biographer, tells the riveting story of the Dickinsons, and reveals Emily as a very different woman from the pale, lovelorn recluse that exists in the popular imagination. Thanks to unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon digs deep into the life and work of Emily Dickinson, to reveal the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, and presents a woman beyond her time who found love, spiritual sustenance, and immortality all on her own terms. An enthralling story of creative genius, filled with illicit passion and betrayal, Lives Like Loaded Guns is sure to cause a stir among Dickinson's many devoted readers and scholars.
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Reviewsbylola
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My #AugustTBR is mostly my #makemereadit stack. Here‘s how the votes shook out. Americanah and Darktown are definitely must reads. I have to read Lives Like Loaded Guns for book club and I‘m also going to try and get to Los Alamos (although I read a few pages and I‘m really concerned about the style of the writing) and Thief of Time.

Mitch Americanah is one of those books that I envy people who haven‘t read it - and can dive into it for the first time. I love it! 1y
emilyhaldi Interested to hear your thoughts on Americanah! 1y
Gillyreads I loved Americanah! 1y
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minkyb I have read Americanah twice. I never re-read. Was definitely worth it. 1y
Cinfhen Missed G‘s bday 😟hope it was awesome!!!! 1y
Reviewsbylola It was the best day ever she said!! @Cinfhen 1y
Cinfhen Is she 6??? So glad BEST DAY EVER!!!! 1y
Cinfhen First grade???? 😱😱 1y
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Reviewsbylola
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Excited to jump in to the tagged book tonight. This is my favorite Dickinson poem, to set the tone for the book. 😃

emilyhaldi I hope I‘m not going to require some poetry analysis discussions in order to understand this book 😆 1y
LeahBergen @emilyhaldi You won‘t! The affair it discusses is quite titillating. 😆😆 1y
Mdargusch I agree @emilyhaldi 🙈 1y
emilyhaldi Oh good!! Thank you @LeahBergen 😆 I‘m not much of a poetry reader... but nothing like a titillating story to get one interested 😉 1y
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Reviewsbylola
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The story of Emily Dickinson‘s brother Austin and his affair with the wife of an Amherst faculty member caused a feud that apparently still existed over 100 years later. Austin‘s inability to #crawlouttalove changed many lives. This one is on my TBR solely due to @LeahBergen ! Now I just need to read it. #aprella

TheKidUpstairs That sounds so good@ 2y
Cinfhen I must have stacked this bc of the lovely @LeahBergen too💖💖💖it sounds really good 😃 2y
MelissaSue81 Emily Dickinson is popping up everywhere for us lately. Both my daughters are reading books with references to her, and my oldest saw a reference in school lately too. I think it‘s a sign. 2y
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emilyhaldi Yes!!! I can't wait to read this 🧡 2y
readordierachel Ooh, this sounds so good!!! 2y
Mdargusch Stacking! 2y
LeahBergen @Cinfhen @Reviewsbylola It‘s so good (and made me take a “deep dive” into the literature of all the salacious bits of Emily‘s brother‘s sordid affair. 😳) 2y
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Suet624
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If not for @kspenmoll my Valentine‘s Day would have been gift-less. Thank you so much for this wonderful surprise. And thank you to Litsy for providing such a wonderful community of generous people.

saresmoore ♥️♥️♥️ How wonderful, @kspenmoll ! 2y
TrishB Lovely ❤️ 2y
merelybookish So thoughtful! 2y
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LeahBergen Lives Like Loaded Guns is amazing. 2y
Suet624 @LeahBergen I can‘t wait to read it!!! 2y
kspenmoll You are so welcome! My thinking is Litsy inspires us all to pay it forward and/be generous with one another. Plus some Vermont maple sugar candy came my way... @saresmoore @merelybookish (edited) 2y
batsy How wonderful 💜 Lovely books... I want to read Lives Like Loaded Guns! 2y
Suet624 @batsy I‘ll check in with you when I finish it and see if you‘d like my copy. 💕 2y
batsy You're so sweet, please don't worry about it ❤️ My TBR is long enough and I should discipline myself to read the books I already own 😁 2y
Suet624 @batsy I truly understand but it‘s so fun to receive books!!! 2y
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shawnmooney
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Pickpick

If you think a novel about a staid 19th-century New England family—including an sickly maiden poet daughter—torn apart by a swinging couple, its wife seducing the married brother while the spinster poet writes, writes, and glowers—the married woman largely responsible, albeit vindictively, for establishing the poet‘s posthumous fame—sounds good, well this literary biography of Emily Dickinson and her feuding family is for you. Completely riveting!

TrishB I'm definitely up for that one! When payday arrives! 2y
shawnmooney My creative use of dashes is an homage to Emily, of course... 2y
ValerieAndBooks Ooh, stacking!! 2y
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batsy Love the use of Dickinsonian dashes! 2y
LeahBergen I'm so glad you liked this one! Now I won't have to "unfriend" you. ?? 2y
Sydsavvy 😳sign me up! 2y
ReadingEnvy Sounds more interesting than I would have thought her life would be! 2y
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shawnmooney
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❤️❤️❤️

saresmoore What a wonderful story! 2y
LeahBergen Love! 2y
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LeahBergen Ha!! 2y
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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Top to bottom: Lavinia Dickinson, Emily's sister; Susan Dickinson, Emily's brother Austin's wife; Mabel Todd, Austin Dickinson's mistress. Oh, the drama!

LeahBergen Right?! 😮 3y
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shawnmooney
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LeahBergen I recently found the coolest old book by Millicent Todd Bingham at a book sale for $1 (and it's a snazzy first edition!) 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen Well aren't you the most splendiferous book nerd in all of Canada! 😍😍 I'm just getting into the meat of the family feud now and is it ever fascinating! 3y
LeahBergen I'm glad you are still liking it as I've been enjoying this revisit through your posts. 😘 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen The post-Emily twists and turns of the family feud are particularly riveting! OMG 3y
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batsy Yes it would 💜 3y
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Reviewsbylola That's one serious dude! 3y
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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Don't ask me to restate this thought in simple English, but it does strike me as being insightful.

shawnmooney The next sentence might give you more to go on: "This act of daring takes off from a logical argument along the tightrope of the quatrain. She flaunts her footsteps. Her poetic line is a high-wire act: a walker pretends to hesitate, stop, and sway; then, fleet of foot, skips to the end." 3y
batsy "As a woman unmodified by mating" That's a wonderfully odd and unexpected way of putting it 3y
shawnmooney @batsy I thought so too! 3y
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Marchpane Oh, I really like that tightrope walker analogy 👌 3y
tpixie Very poetic, even if hard to understand!! 3y
saresmoore I love this. 3y
LeahBergen ❤️❤️ 3y
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shawnmooney
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Today's #MisogynyMinute has been brought to you by Samuel Bowles (1826-1878), a newspaper owner, friend—and possibly unrequited love object of—Emily Dickinson. He published some of her early poetry.

saresmoore What's worse is that it sounds like a tasteless euphemism to me. 😳 3y
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batsy 😔 3y
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TrishB Got to love a bit of old fashioned misogyny. 3y
batsy Ugh 😠 3y
Sue 😤 3y
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saresmoore "In 18—, Samuel Gridley Howe died a slow and painful death." ?? 3y
Mindyrecycles Unreal. 3y
Suet624 All I can think of right now are swear words. 3y
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LeahBergen Whoa. I wonder if that line worked on ALL the reclusive poets? 🤔 3y
saresmoore @LeahBergen just snapped this right into perspective for me. 😂 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen @batsy @saresmoore The line is a red herring! Obviously, he had Emily at "trap door"! ?? 3y
batsy @shawnmooney @LeahBergen @saresmoore He had ME at trapdoor 😂😂 3y
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pocketmermaid
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About to wash some dishes and get some audiobook listening done.

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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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I'd never heard of this 19th-century American novelist and essayist, 'Ik Marvel' before: doesn't he look dreamy?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Grant_Mitchell

Suet624 He does! 3y
shawnmooney @Suet624 But just remember, I saw him first! 😜😜 3y
Suet624 Okay, fine. If you say so. I'll go back to salivating over Dev Patel. 3y
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shawnmooney @Suet624 Buh-buh-but! Wait! 😍 3y
LeahBergen Look at those dishy whiskers. 😉 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen Dishy whiskers! 😂😂I want THAT on a bracelet! 3y
LeahBergen I'm not sure but I THINK that might have to be custom-made? 😂 3y
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LeahBergen Wait ... you haven't bailed yet? I'm so excited! How's it going? (edited) 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen Indeed I haven't! I am really enjoying it! There are a few bits—the typical biographer overreach and overinterpretation stuff—that annoy me, but far fewer than in most bios. 💜 3y
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shawnmooney
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saresmoore A seething gift. ♥️ It seems like the author is giving her story the vibrancy it deserves. 3y
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LeahBergen My mind is joggled to bits. 3y
Zelma I like a good mind joggle. 😆 3y
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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shawnmooney
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The quote is about Emily Dickinson the poet's mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson.

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Simona Are you reading the physical/paper book or listening to audiobook? 3y
shawnmooney @Simona I need to give you one more guess! (E-book) 😘😘 3y
Simona 😊😂😊 I'll be more precise, next time 😘 3y
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Cinfhen Ha! 3y
DeborahSmall Jesus. Creepy 👀 3y
Suet624 Yes indeed. 3y
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shawnmooney
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There appears to be only one extant photo of Emily's father; it's doing double-duty because this quote and the last one are both too good not to share! 😂

MyBookLife This book seems great 😂 3y
LeahBergen 😂😂 I'm loving these! 3y
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Bambolina_81 This book sounds fascinating. I'd love to know more about Emily 's background 3y
DeborahSmall Love it !! 3y
LeahBergen 😂😂 3y
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shawnmooney
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And mine—my still volcano life—heaves forth in fiery bail reviews. 😂😂

Suet624 😂😂😂 3y
LeahBergen Don't you dare bail on this one yet! 😄 3y
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shawnmooney
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Cinfhen 😍😍 3y
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LeahBergen 👍🏼 3y
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shawnmooney
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LeahBergen I'm hoping you stick with this one as I'm loving your posts! 😍 3y
DivineDiana @LeahBergen I just found them! And I do as well! Fascinating! 3y
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ValerieAndBooks Austin is such a popular boy's name nowadays that it seems almost out of place in that era! And, looking around my library 🤔for a non-mystery non-bio with a weapon title, in case you bail!! 3y
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shawnmooney
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Being as deeply disinterested in— usually to the point of loathing—mystery novels or any kind of book with a military theme, I've had a dickens of a time finding a book I could read to completion for the Eclectic Readers challenge category of 'book-with-a-weapon-in-the-title.' I'm usually also quite averse to biographies; however, this one sounds intriguing and I thank @LeahBergen for doing some handholding to convince me to give it a go!

Abailliekaras I can recommend the Hunting Gun if that helps! 3y
shawnmooney @Abailliekaras That is definitely the best choice but I read and loved it in 2016! :( 3y
LeahBergen 🤞🏻 3y
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ReadingEnvy Maybe you need one that references THESE guns! 💪 3y
shawnmooney @ReadingEnvy THOSE guns! Lmao😂😂😂 3y
shawnmooney @ReadingEnvy Yes to 'No Knives' - but it only exists in paper form and I couldn't get it here affordably in time to finish reading it before the June 24 deadline. But I will read it eventually! 3y
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LeahBergen
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I don't have a #SweetChildOMine (but lots and lots of nieces and nephews) so here's some bookish Guns N' Roses. 😄 #LyricalApril

Cinfhen Clever!!! ☠️🌹🎸😃 3y
Cinfhen Have you read the Dickinson book? It sounds fascinating 💕 3y
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Bambolina_81 Love the sound of the Dickinson bio 3y
julesG Well-played! 3y
JenP Clever 3y
Hollie Nicely done! 3y
saresmoore 👏👏👏 3y
Reviewsbylola Have you read the Dickinson? I don't usually enjoy biography type books but it sounds really good! 3y
Reviewsbylola Haha, great minds think alike ^^ @Cinfhen 3y
LauraBeth Perfect! 3y
CrowCAH Awesome; you nailed it! 3y
LeahBergen @Cinfhen @Bambolina_81 @Reviewsbylola Yes, and I heartily recommend it! I was amazed at the bizarreness of her family. Her brother was a bit of a "dirty dog". ? 3y
Cinfhen Oh crap @Reviewsbylola I thought we were gonna get a pass but looks like @LeahBergen is saying dive right in 😜 3y
Reviewsbylola 😂😜 @Cinfhen stacked! 📚 3y
LeahBergen @Cinfhen @Reviewsbylola I think it was the dirty brother comment that swayed you both. 😂 3y
KVanRead 😂😂😂 Perfect!! 3y
kspenmoll The Dickinson book was fascinating-recommend it! 3y
rubyslippersreads 😍😍😍 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen I am looking at this as a replacement for my "book with a weapon in the title" category – do you think I would like it? The topic is certainly interesting to me… How is the prose? ❤️❤️ 3y
LeahBergen @shawnmooney Hmm... you MIGHT like it? I read it in an obsessive Emily Dickinson bio binge. I found it captivating but the prose could be a little "biography dry", if you know what I mean. Maybe read a free sample before buying it? 3y
shawnmooney @LeahBergen Good advice! I am doing just that. The family feud story is so damned interesting I'll probably hold my nose vis-a-vis the over-psychoanalyzing that turns me off of biography most times and give it a go! I'll finish the Kindle preview probably today and then decide. Thanks! 3y
shawnmooney I actually think the writing is pretty good so far too 3y
LeahBergen @shawnmooney Oh good! Yes, I was inordinately titillated by the dirty shenanigans of Emily's brother. 😂 3y
Hobbinol Emily's grandfather is one of my ancestors (and I have no urge to wear white dresses--go figure...😊) 3y
LeahBergen @Hobbinol Not even a nice white cotton nightshirt? 😉 3y
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LeahBergen
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Pickpick

Day 19 and here's some #poetry stuff. I discovered Emily Dickinson in high school but became truly fascinated with her life after visiting her home and museum in Amherst. This book digs up some good sordid dirt on her married brother's affair with a married woman and the ramifications it had on the publishing of Emily's poems, even into the 21st century. Oh, and that cookbook has Emily's gingerbread recipe. #augustofpages #augustbookchallenge

LeahBergen @TheSpinecrackersBookClub Oops, I forgot to tag you. 😃 3y
rubyslippersreads Wonderful collection! 💕📚 3y
MrBook 😳😱😆😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👍🏻👌🏻!!!! 3y
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eedevore
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Fun Friday post with @Liberty -- I like to read about Emily Dickinson--her life, her style, her letters, her family. I just can't get enough Emily.

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