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Muse: A novel by Jonathan Galassi

Muse: A novel

by Jonathan Galassi

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Tedious, intellectually indulgent name-dropping (and it's "fiction"!).
( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
This novel was billed as "about writers' secrets, publishers' obsessions, manuscripts, love, loyalty, and betrayal." For the first 150 pages I felt really disappointed. But then, things picked up and I enjoyed it. Paul Dukach finally meets his idol, the poet Ida Perkins and learns the secret of her life and gets to publish her magnum opus posthumously. I was glad I read this book. ( )
  Writermala | Aug 26, 2015 |
"This is a love story. It's about the good old days, when men were men and women were women and books were books, with glued or even sewn bindings, cloth or paper covers, with beautiful and not-so-beautiful jackets and a musty, dusty, wonderful smell; when books furnished many a room, and their contents, the magic words, their poetry and prose, were liquor, perfume, sex and glory to their devotees."

Thus is the glorious beginning of this homage to books, authors, publishers and the business of bookmaking. Editor Paul Dukach comes up through the ranks, working for one titan of the business while developing a serious relationship with another titan. The common thread is the renowned poet, Ida Perkins, published by one and hotly sought by the other. Perkins adorns Rolling Stones' cover, cavorts with presidents and literati, and is breathlessly followed for her every pronouncement. (Oh, that the real world treated poets so!) Dukach, one of her most devoted readers, is suddenly called to Venice to meet the great lady. Perkins entrusts to him a secret task that could upend the publishing world and those he reveres.

Dukach is a fictional stand-in for author Jonathan Galassi, a poet in his own right, and editor in chief of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, fictionally rendered as Purcell & Stern. It is widely accepted that Roger Strauss is represented by Homer Stern as is James Laughlin as Sterling Wainwright. Readers in the know might also delight in finding doppelgangers of Susan Sontag, Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Bishop, Derek Wolcott and Seamus Heaney, among many others. The book is a bit long on exposition leaving a sense of remove rather than action, but delightedly so, with many a lovely turn of phrase.

One doesn't need to have an intimate knowledge of publishing to enjoy this book, but it certainly adds to its deliciousness.

I have dived now into Boris Kachka's "Hothouse", for the non-fictional history of FSG. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Jul 10, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385353340, Hardcover)

A sparkling fiction debut from the poet, translator, and FSG publisher that tells the story of the decades-long rivalry between two publishing lions over the work of an iconic female poet.

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 of its list. Thanks to his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, Paul learns well the ins and outs of the book world: how to work an agent over lunch and swim with the literary sharks at Frankfurt; how to marry flattery with criticism when combing over the manuscripts of brilliant, volatile authors. But though things can be shaky in the age of conglomerates and digital, Paul remains obsessed by one dazzling writer: poet Ida Perkins, whose outsize life and audacious verse have shaped America's contemporary literary landscape, and whose longtime publisher--also her cousin and erstwhile lover--happens to be Homer's biggest rival. When Paul at last meets Ida at her secluded Venetian palazzo, she entrusts him with her greatest secret--one that will change all of their lives forever. Enriched by juicy details only a quintessential insider could know, written with both satiric sharpness and sensitivity, Muse is a hilarious and touching love letter to the people who write, sell--and, above all, read--the books that shape our lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:41 -0400)

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