I keep lists.
I keep a list of New York Times book reviews which were so interesting that I must have the book. I keep a list of books mentioned in footnotes. I keep a list of books people mention in an off-hand way so as to make the book sound essential. I keep a list of books I find in bookstores when I don't have the money to buy them. I keep lists of books that will be good to read when I want to become an expert on something. I also keep a list of books I should read, because they have left such a huge impact on the development of western literature that they will definitely help me to understand myself. Sylvia Plath is the last remaining woman I have on this list.

She's been on the list since the day my mom told me Sylvia Plath killed herself.

My mom didn't know how Sylvia killed herself, but Mom told me The Bell Jar is Sylvia's autobiography.

Ten years later, I decide it's time.

The Bell Jar becoms more like a book on my expert list than a book on my should-read list, because I ended up reading all her poems and then embarked on a pile of her biographers.

"Andy," I say one night, "she went into a mental hospital at the same age I did."

"Andy," I say one night, "she killed herself right after her husband left her for another woman."

"You are not Sylvia Plath," he tells me. "Get comfortable with that instead of thinking up reasons to fall apart again."

"I am comfortable with that," I tell him.

I close my Sylvia Plath book, and lie back, under the sheets, close enough to Andy to feel warm and far enough so I can rest my arms at my sides. I want just a little more time. So when Andy falls asleep, I creep out of bed and read another hundred pages in the livingroom.

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