Robert Frost: A Biography

Jeffrey Meyers, Author
Jeffrey Meyers, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-395-72809-3
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Meyers, the author of 12 earlier biographies, gets off to a less-than-persuasive start by asserting that ""now"" he can reveal that Frost's (1874-1963) love poems after his wife's death can be traced to his passion, beginning at 64, for his married secretary, who was his mistress. The accommodation with her complaisant husband has been acknowledged in print since at least 1990. Furthermore, Meyers contends that his biography will overturn Frost's unpleasant reputation as ""a mean old bastard,"" yet the life as he relates it is a litany of unlikability. While some earlier segments of the narrative seem Meyers's most felicitous biographical prose to date, the pace is clotted with digressions. His editorial ""we"" is also off-putting, and numerous flash-forwards interrupt the life and result in later repetitions. The promised ""new view"" of Frost's character fails to materialize, although the ""original interpretations of his poems"" is in some cases satisfying. His life outside his books, in Meyers's account, is a series of relocations to farmhouses or campuses, followed by public readings that Frost claimed to despise but that fed his purse and his vanity. Photos. (May)
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