“The pears fatten like little buddhas”: Inscribing Sylvia Plath onto Central Java

By Audrey McGlinchy

I opened my notebook on a return flight from Jakarta, Indonesia to Chiang Mai, Thailand, my home for the past nine months. In the failing light of the budget airline’s overhead bulb I deciphered a sentence penned days earlier, nearly forgotten to me now: “Sylvia Plath was talking about Asia.” The bit seemed strange and unprompted; I closed my notebook, and fell asleep.

Among the books I brought with me to Southeast Asia is Sylvia Plath’s “The Colossus and Other Poems.” My criterion was superficial: only the thinnest books should make it. And, as a direct result of try...

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