Sylvia Plath commented in her journals: 'For me, writing verse is an evasion of the real job of writing'. From her mid-teens she wrote stories, at first easily and successfully, but then with increasing difficulty as the demands of her real vision complicated her growing ambition to make a career as a conventional story writer.
When the first edition of Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams appeared, Margaret Walters said of it in the Guardian:'...the book does offer...new insight into her development as a writer,' suggesting how even her mistakes and dead ends contributed to the formation of an original and pathfinding talent.'
This second edition contains the thirteen stories included in the first edition together with five of her more interesting pieces of journalism and a few fragments from her journal; and in Part IV, a further nine stories selected from the Indiana Archive. All items are given approximate dates of composition in so far as that is known.
These gleanings from Sylvia Plath's largely unpublished prose are sure to interest the admirers of her poetry. And students of the psychology of creativity will be intrigued too, because it is all here: the soul laid bare, the true confessions, mostly of despair, and the fumbling attempts toward commercial success, inhibited by the interior doubts. Her husband, Ted Hughes, contributes a thoughtful introduction, arguing that these little pieces - arranged in reverse chronological order, stories next to journal entries - have value "if only as notes toward her inner biography," but admitting that probably "her real creation was her own image." He convincingly connects the Flaubertian drudgery of her daily recording of details to the solidity of the last Ariel poems. Sylvia wished above all to be a successful writer of successful, marketable short stories, and had not, at the time of her death, succeeded. Would she ever have? One may, if one cares to, speculate about her schizophrenia, "this absolutely new white person and the old yellow one." Her problem was that she had a Mademoiselle mind and a New Yorker ambition; her wide reading and her earthy intelligence fused only occasionally, in those late poems. Here we have the record of her ambition - and a few glimpses of its partial fruition. (Kirkus Reviews)