I have a new pick for the Jez book club. I just finished Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn. Now I never knew Ms. Tamblyn was a writer at all. I knew her as the lesbian from Two and a Half Men and the wife of David Cross (who I think is so funny). I came across her books of poetry after I saw a news report saying she came forward with the fact that James Woods tried to get her to go to Las Vegas with him when she was a minor. This was a long time ago. She came out now because Mr. Woods was making a negative comment about a movie Armie Hammer has coming out where someone is in a relationship with a minor. I don’t know much about this movie, it wasn’t what drew my attention.
What drew my attention was the instant bravery of Amber Tamblyn to be all, wait a minute–you are a hypocrite and a dude who’s guilty of this yourself. She had to know there would be backlash, denying and lying, James Woods devotees who would not believe her, others who question her part in it (yes, the part of an innocent minor minding her own business in a restaurant). We all know how these things go nearly 100% of the time. She came forward anyway. I’m in awe because I’m not that brave.
Anyway, I read this and then started following her on twitter. I then got to read her follow up op-ed in The NY Times and her open letter to James Woods after he, of course, denied it. (Both are retweeted onto my twitter wall if you want to read them @JezFever). Anyway, I was moved by both these writings and then found out she has books.
So Dark Sparkler is a poetry book with poems dedicated to famous women who died too young. There are many: Jean Harlow, Brittany Murphy, Sharon Tate, Rebecca Shaeffer, and Dana Plato to name a few. Some I didn’t know were dead, like the girl who played the lead in Savannah Smiles. Some I didn’t know their stories, like Heather O’Rourke (Poltergeist) who had a wrong diagnoses and died at twelve. My favorites were Peg Entwhistle and Frances Farmer.
Peg Entwhistle was an actress who died at 24. She was unhappy about how her career was going so she climbed up to the Hollywoodland sign and hung herself off the H. Fascinating!! Who decides they are so despondent that they need end their life and then takes the time to do something so poetic as to hang themselves off of the Hollywood sign?? No one will ever know what went through her young mind that day but seriously, she is as famous as she wanted to be for it but not around to enjoy it.
Frances Farmer was an actress who spent a majority of her life in and out hospitals because of various psychiatric problems. Tamblyn writes of her:
“Frances opened her mouth to answer
A bug crawled out, fell to the ground
And burrowed right back into a hole in her foot.”
I felt like I, myself had some sort of mental issues when I was reading about someone with mental issues. I liked that. I don’t know why. This was my favorite poem in the book.
Anyway, I’m not going to pretend I knew every name when going though the poems of this book. I had my computer with me so I could google names I didn’t know and google the stories if those I did. It took me back to my college days when I was getting my English degree. A novel was never just a novel back then. And this is not just a book of poems. It’s a collection of tragedy. And I still don’t know if it made me depressed or ready to change my life. Either way it’s totally worth a read.