Home—MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10022.
Teacher, journalist, public speaker, and author.
Authors Guild, Authors League of America, American Society of Journalists and Authors.
Seized: Temporal Lobe Epilepsy as a Medical, Historical, and Artistic Phenomenon, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.
Also contributor to numerous general interest publications, including Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Gourmet, and Ladies' Home Journal.
A writer trained at Harvard and Princeton universities, Eve LaPlante has shown both interest and facility in covering a wide variety of subjects. Her magazine articles have dealt with gourmet dining, the music scene in Boston, the Irish language, and the impact of divorce. Her first book examines the cultural impact of a particular kind of epilepsy. Her second chronicles the life of Anne Hutchinson, the woman who defied the puritan establishment of Massachusetts Bay.
" The Brothers Karamazov, Alice in Wonderland, Messiah, and Starry Night are among the cornerstones of cultural history. But if Eve LaPlante is correct, they are also manifestations of disease," commented Robert Finn in Technology Review. In Seized: Temporal Lobe Epilepsy as a Medical, Historical, and Artistic Phenomenon, LaPlante describes the effects of a form of epilepsy (TLE) in which the victim remains conscious during seizures and may not even be aware that he or she has the disorder. The effects of this largely misunderstood disease can be quite significant and include hypersensitivity, extreme emotional dependency, an obsessive need to write or produce art, and confusion or panic in even the most ordinary or familiar surroundings. LaPlante examines the cases of current sufferers and extends her findings to more famous figures, such as Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh and Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, raising questions about the relationship between art and illness and the limits to self-determination.
One of the possible manifestations of TLE is hyperreligiosity, and LaPlante's book American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans describes a woman whose dramatic life was built around her strong—some might say obsessive—religious beliefs. Joining U.S. presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and both George Bushes as a descendant of Hutchinson, LaPlante is largely sympathetic to her subject, who fled persecution in England only to find herself embroiled in controversy in the Massachusetts Bay colony. As the daughter of a controversial preacher who was often jailed for his heretical views, Hutchinson had little regard for religious authority. When she detected unbiblical teachings in her local church, she stormed out and formed her own biblical study group. At first she attracted mainly women, but gradually men began listening to her. Among these men were a surprising number of influential merchants, which irritated her neighbor, Governor John Winthrop. An alarmed Winthrop brought her up on charges of heresy and had her banished from the colony.
Although LaPlante sees Hutchinson as an early supporter of religious freedom, not all critics agree. "To assume the alternative to Puritanism was liberal democracy, and not something like the Heart of Darkness, is the easiest mistake to make in writing about the early American settlers. LaPlante makes it," commented Christopher Caldwell in the New York Times Book Review. Indeed, Hutchinson not only took an extreme view of salvation through faith alone, rather than works; she also believed that she could tell the saved from the unsaved, and the saved were essentially unbound by any law or rule. Nevertheless, her life is a testament to both faith and courage, and after her banishment she led a group of followers east, becoming (with Roger Williams) a cofounder of Rhode Island. Throughout her ordeals, she remained a devoted wife and mother, raised fifteen children, and earned a reputation as an accomplished midwife, even delivering one of Winthrop's children shortly before her trial. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, LaPlante "provides a fast-paced and elegant account of Hutchinson's life and work." Library Journal reviewer Cathy Carpenter summed up: "This biography covers her life as comprehensively as possible."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Donna Chavez, review of American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans, p. 1129.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of American Jezebel, p. 1439.
Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Cathy Carpenter, review of American Jezebel, p. 102.
New York Times Book Review, May 16, 2004, Christopher Caldwell, "Errand into the Wilderness," p. 33.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 1993, review of Seized: Temporal Lobe Epilepsy as a Medical, Historical, and Artistic Phenomenon, p. 62; January 19, 2004, review of American Jezebel, p. 70.
Technology Review, February-March, 1994, Robert Finn, review of Seized, p. 75.
Eve LaPlante Home Page,http://www.evelaplante.com (October 14, 2004).
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (March 26, 2004), Laura Miller, review of American Jezebel.*