Book 8 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from January 13 - 17
Muse by Jonathan Galassi
Summary (via Goodreads)
From the publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux: a first novel, at once hilarious and tender, about the decades-long rivalry between two publishing lions, and the iconic, alluring writer who has obsessed them both.
Paul Dukach is heir apparent at Purcell & Stern, one of the last independent publishing houses in New York, whose shabby offices on Union Square belie the treasures on its list. Working with his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, Paul learns the ins and outs of the book trade — how to work an agent over lunch; how to swim with the literary sharks at the Frankfurt Book Fair; and, most important, how to nurse the fragile egos of the dazzling, volatile authors he adores.
But Paul's deepest admiration has always been reserved for one writer: poet Ida Perkins, whose audacious verse and notorious private life have shaped America's contemporary literary landscape, and whose longtime publisher — also her cousin and erstwhile lover — happens to be Homer’s biggest rival. And when Paul at last has the chance to meet Ida at her Venetian palazzo, she entrusts him with her greatest secret — one that will change all of their lives forever.
Studded with juicy details only a quintessential insider could know, written with both satiric verve and openhearted nostalgia, Muse is a brilliant, haunting book about the beguiling interplay between life and art, and the eternal romance of literature.
I'm reading words and nothing is sinking in but I don't feel a need to reread because I don't think I've missed anything. I feel like I've read a lot but when I pick it up there's still a ton left.
It's a book about life with nothing too happy or sad during the majority of it. It reads like non-fiction but since the people aren't real, there's nothing to learn so I don't see the point. Maybe it's a little too "insider" for me to enjoy.
There were too many people, even if it's from Paul's perspective. If it's first person, I should know more about Paul. I don't really know any of the characters so the reveal didn't matter, I didn't feel the shock or sympathy I would have if I'd been more invested.
I know people don't print things out and mail them in any more but I love Homer's rubber stamps ("Horseshit Pie" and "Fuck You Very Much") and would've loved to have them at some of my previous jobs. And this phrase made me laugh - "It was as if he'd farted at the table or mentioned the Holocaust". Apparently there's no in-between and both are equally egregious in the company he kept.
Overall, I like his writing and his descriptions of characters but the topic is not for me.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"We make so much of love. We live for it, we ache for it, we convince ourselves that we'll die without it and make the search for it the focus of our lives. Yet love, my friends, is a terrible pain. It distracts us; it sucks up time and energy, makes us listless and miserable when we're without it and turns us into bovine creatures when we find it. Being in love is arguably the least productive of human states."
"After a while, his laptop's battery died, so he flipped through the papers in the accordion file, inhaling the smoky residue of Arnold's and Ida's lives. The charred smell came, he assumed, from the pages themselves, burning away invisibly as they had for years in the Impetus vault. Eventually they would crumble and be lost to the world, if they weren't thrown away first. For today, though, they were his to inhale and get lost in."