In the Land of Men

In the Land of Men

A Memoir

Book - 2020
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At twenty-two, a naïve Midwesterner, Adrienne Miller got a lucky break when she was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ. The mid-nineties were still the golden age of print journalism, and a publication like GQ then seemed the red-hot center of the literary world, even if their sensibilities were manifestly mid-century-the martinis, the male egos, and the unquestioned authority of kings. Still, Adrienne learned to hold her own in a man's world, and three years later she forged her own path, becoming the first woman to hold the role of literary editor at Esquire. She was at Esquire during a unique moment in history that simultaneously saw the last days of the old guard of literary titans, and the rise of a new movement, as exemplified by David Foster Wallace, who would become her closest friend, confidant-and antagonist. Here is the untold story of an intellectual and artistic exchange that grew into a highly charged relationship, and Miller presents a candid portrait of the mercurial man behind the spotlight. It is also an account of the guarded literary world, which asks the question: How does a young woman fit into this culture and at what cost? With wit and deep intelligence, Miller presents a moving portrayal of a young woman's education in a land of men.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, [2020]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780062682413
Branch Call Number: 070.5109 MIL
Characteristics: ix, 340 pages


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May 13, 2020

Not done but blown away already. I must be more judgmental than I thought. I assumed this book would be as vapid as any memoir written by a young, tall, blonde woman who has parents that help her move to New York and give her money even to start her career, a career begun by connections (a friend of a friend, actually a professor’s friend), and otherwise better than you. Or much, much better than me. Not that I don’t wish my pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps (at least I had bootstraps), life on anyone. But who works extremely hard to keep their head above water, barely and not always, and wants to read anything written by someone with such luck and blessings? Just spare me.

Yet here I am, halfway through and itching for a free few hours to finish up this well-themed (land of men) journey of a young woman working her way up through a dead industry (magazine publishing) all while enjoying the naïveté of coming from the Midwest while being financially comfortable and tall, thin, blonde and everything you need to get on the lucky train. The reason I can’t let go is that she gets on the train and runs to the front, noticing, watching, and running through the maze of a male-dominated industry like us regular people could never do, all while not appearing to rely on being a tall, thin blonde.

Good titles sometimes lie and tease you with crap, just because the title is so compelling. This one is not like that so far.

Now that I’ve had time to finish and reflect, I hate to say it’s like most fiction I read before I stopped reading fiction: the last third is never as good as the first third. (I know, this isn’t fiction, but the writing is so good it’s almost fictional. A compliment, in other words.)

This one falls into that familiar pattern, but it’s not so hard to skim through and finish because it’s not Shakespeare. But it’s wonderful, a delightful place to park your mind and be someone else for a while, especially if that someone else has only bad choices in which to choose from, and makes a range of choices I’d never make in a million years. But that’s why we read: we don’t have to pay the price of someone else’s bad decisions. And it felt good to be me afterward. Especially with the lingering voice of this quirky, brilliant woman roaming in my head for a while.

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