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A fiercely personal memoir about coming of age in the male-dominated literary world of the nineties, becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire, and Miller's personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace A naive and idealistic twenty-two-year-old from the Midwest, Adrienne Miller got her lucky break when she was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ A fiercely personal memoir about coming of age in the male-dominated literary world of the nineties, becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire, and Miller's personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace A naive and idealistic twenty-two-year-old from the Midwest, Adrienne Miller got her lucky break when she was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine in the mid-nineties. Even if its sensibilities were manifestly mid-century—the martinis, powerful male egos, and unquestioned authority of kings—GQ still seemed the red-hot center of the literary world. It was there that Miller began learning how to survive in a man’s world. Three years later, she forged her own path, becoming the first woman to take on the role of literary editor of Esquire, home to the male writers who had defined manhood itself— Hemingway, Mailer, and Carver. Up against this old world, she would soon discover that it wanted nothing to do with a “mere girl.”  But this was also a unique moment in history that saw the rise of a new literary movement, as exemplified by McSweeney’s and the work of David Foster Wallace. A decade older than Miller, the mercurial Wallace would become the defining voice of a generation and the fiction writer she would work with most. He was her closest friend, confidant—and antagonist. Their intellectual and artistic exchange grew into a highly charged professional and personal relationship between the most prominent male writer of the era and a young woman still finding her voice.  This memoir—a rich, dazzling story of power, ambition, and identity—ultimately asks the question “How does a young woman fit into this male culture and at what cost?” With great wit and deep intelligence, Miller presents an inspiring and moving portrayal of a young woman’s education in a land of men.


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A fiercely personal memoir about coming of age in the male-dominated literary world of the nineties, becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire, and Miller's personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace A naive and idealistic twenty-two-year-old from the Midwest, Adrienne Miller got her lucky break when she was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ A fiercely personal memoir about coming of age in the male-dominated literary world of the nineties, becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire, and Miller's personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace A naive and idealistic twenty-two-year-old from the Midwest, Adrienne Miller got her lucky break when she was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine in the mid-nineties. Even if its sensibilities were manifestly mid-century—the martinis, powerful male egos, and unquestioned authority of kings—GQ still seemed the red-hot center of the literary world. It was there that Miller began learning how to survive in a man’s world. Three years later, she forged her own path, becoming the first woman to take on the role of literary editor of Esquire, home to the male writers who had defined manhood itself— Hemingway, Mailer, and Carver. Up against this old world, she would soon discover that it wanted nothing to do with a “mere girl.”  But this was also a unique moment in history that saw the rise of a new literary movement, as exemplified by McSweeney’s and the work of David Foster Wallace. A decade older than Miller, the mercurial Wallace would become the defining voice of a generation and the fiction writer she would work with most. He was her closest friend, confidant—and antagonist. Their intellectual and artistic exchange grew into a highly charged professional and personal relationship between the most prominent male writer of the era and a young woman still finding her voice.  This memoir—a rich, dazzling story of power, ambition, and identity—ultimately asks the question “How does a young woman fit into this male culture and at what cost?” With great wit and deep intelligence, Miller presents an inspiring and moving portrayal of a young woman’s education in a land of men.

30 review for In the Land of Men: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    I'd been spending my professional life, at GQ and Esquire both, reading fiction by men about men.... There sure were a lot of trains. Why were there so many prostitutes? And why were so many of the women dead?... Oh, if I had a dime for each time I read the sentence "She made me feel alive ..." (to which my private stock response was always "And you made her feel dead"). (p. 152) *** "I'm sorry I'm being so outspoken and bad-tempered," [David Foster Wallace] said. "I seem to have no filter when I I'd been spending my professional life, at GQ and Esquire both, reading fiction by men about men.... There sure were a lot of trains. Why were there so many prostitutes? And why were so many of the women dead?... Oh, if I had a dime for each time I read the sentence "She made me feel alive ..." (to which my private stock response was always "And you made her feel dead"). (p. 152) *** "I'm sorry I'm being so outspoken and bad-tempered," [David Foster Wallace] said. "I seem to have no filter when I talk to you. It's weird." "Not a problem," I said. (p. 166) *** There's more than one way to look at In the Land of Men. For me, the most obvious way to look at it is as a source of literary and publishing gossip. Adrienne Miller worked as the fiction editor of Esquire from 1997 to 2006, and the stories she has to tell about writers, editors, and publishing are the kind of thing I want to be reading all the time. If every person who worked in publishing before the internet took over wrote a memoir about their experiences, I would read them all. I just can't get enough, and the whole time I was reading this book it was all I wanted to do. *** Of course, there's more to it than that. Miller became the fiction editor of Esquire at age twenty-five. It was a lot of power for a young woman and she had a good mentor, but it was a men's magazine and circumstances were not always ideal. The 1990s were an interesting time in that it seemed that a lot of progress had been made toward gender equality, and for a lot of men who considered themselves progressive and liberal and nonsexist, that seemed to translate into... freedom to be sexist. They seemed to feel that since they believed they were progressive and not sexist, by definition nothing they said or did could be considered sexist, even if it was actually sexist. And since we were all equal anyway, what did it matter? Certainly this book is full of examples like that; Miller experienced some truly outrageous behavior on the part of the men around her, and the recounting of it here is both the background and the foreground of In the Land of Men. *** In the Land of Men is also the story of Miller's romantic (albeit mostly long-distance) relationship with David Foster Wallace. Miller becomes Wallace's editor for a story at Esquire, and he pretty much immediately moves in on her; it's uncomfortable for the reader, who senses that if Wallace had had more twentysomething tall blonde female editors, he'd have done exactly the same thing to all of them. The relationship ultimately doesn't work and Wallace comes off badly; he's possessive and jealous even after he moves in with another woman (!), and he implies Miller, and women in general, are just not that smart in comparison to men. But Miller continues to have a relationship with him, in one way or another, for years; she clearly saw something in him. This part of the book is like having a long, one-sided conversation with a friend in a bad relationship; she recounts his misdeeds and overanalyzes his behavior, but always maintains that he has a good side that makes the whole thing worthwhile. Sometime you believe her and sometimes you don't. *** Miller makes a point of noting that, during her tenure as Esquire's fiction editor, she hired as many women as she could, albeit in mostly low-level positions. She also mentions in passing that she edited several female writers in addition to all the men (Jeanette Winterson is one I recall). Yet so little ink is spilled on these relationships or experiences. In the Land of Men is in part a book about the sexism of the 1990s publishing industry, but it is also preoccupied with only one writer: the white, male David Foster Wallace. It's hard not to feel this book perpetuates some of the very same sexism it's calling out. "This is my story," not Wallace's, Miller often reminds both herself and the reader, and sometimes it's a reminder that we need. For a reader like me, In the Land of Men has much to recommend it, but like Miller and Wallace's relationship... it's complicated. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to the publisher.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a complimentary copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I’ll keep this one brief because I dislike discussing books I didn’t enjoy, but I want to share the good with the bad when it comes to my book reviews. In the Land of Men by Adrienne Miller: At 22, Adrienne Miller was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine and at 25 she became the first woman to take on the role of literary editor of Esquire. I wanted to know about her unique struggles whil I received a complimentary copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I’ll keep this one brief because I dislike discussing books I didn’t enjoy, but I want to share the good with the bad when it comes to my book reviews. In the Land of Men by Adrienne Miller: At 22, Adrienne Miller was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine and at 25 she became the first woman to take on the role of literary editor of Esquire. I wanted to know about her unique struggles while working in the male-dominated literary world of the nineties. While she shares some of those stories, this book is mostly a detailed account of her personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace. Regarded as a literary rock star at the time, his inappropriate actions seemed to get a pass because of his “brilliance.” Every page and section where he was featured was absolutely cringe-worthy, but Miller appears indifferent or accepting of his behavior. In short, smart girls can be stupid and “geniuses” can be total assholes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marty Button

    I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. The book started out great. The author and I are approximately the same age. She's a girl from the Midwest who loved reading as a child. I am a girl from the Midwest who loved reading as a child. She got a job in NYNY working for a magazine. Wow! She got the job I thought I wanted when I was a young college graduate. Her experiences in the city were interesting. Her interactions with male colleagues was spot-on with regards to the way the wo I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. The book started out great. The author and I are approximately the same age. She's a girl from the Midwest who loved reading as a child. I am a girl from the Midwest who loved reading as a child. She got a job in NYNY working for a magazine. Wow! She got the job I thought I wanted when I was a young college graduate. Her experiences in the city were interesting. Her interactions with male colleagues was spot-on with regards to the way the world worked in the 1990s (this is pre- "me too" movement). She lived in NY. She hung out with writers and literary agents. She met David Foster Wallace. And then... the book took a left turn. What started out as an interesting memoir about Adrienne Miller turned into a eulogy honoring David Foster Wallace. David Foster Wallace was a talented writer who is now gone. Miller had a working relationship with him that impacted her life. This could have been summed up in paragraphs, not pages. Miller didn't need DFW to make her story interesting. I do not know who edited this book but it seems that due to Miller's former status the publisher/editor was hesitant to tell her that the book had drastically lost direction. I thought this memoir was going to be the story of a woman working in a land dominated by men. Instead it was about the author's relationship with a mentally unstable literary genius. Adrienne Miller has a gift with words. Unfortunately, that is not the book I wanted to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This book could have been brilliant. It stated out so strong and I was really enjoying the story of Adrienne’s meteoritic rise to becoming the literary fiction editor of Esquire at twenty five. She talked a lot about how she was surrounded by men and sexism. And then there was the part where there was just a list of all the harassment she had dealt with spilled baldly out. In just a few pages. The rest of the book was just an ode to David Foster Wallace. She edited a few stories with him and had This book could have been brilliant. It stated out so strong and I was really enjoying the story of Adrienne’s meteoritic rise to becoming the literary fiction editor of Esquire at twenty five. She talked a lot about how she was surrounded by men and sexism. And then there was the part where there was just a list of all the harassment she had dealt with spilled baldly out. In just a few pages. The rest of the book was just an ode to David Foster Wallace. She edited a few stories with him and had a vague romantic long distance relationship with him. That’s the part I struggled with. He was terrible and abusive to her but she often excused his behavior away and mostly talked about how brilliant he was. It just made me sad. I would have liked to read more about Adrienne’s career than her recounting every word of boring phone conversations with DFW. But I did love her writing. It was really beautiful and captivating. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    This is a well-written memoir with two separate objectives - relating her experiences as a literary editor at two men’s magazines and her relationship, both personal and professional, with David Foster Wallace. In the second half of the book, these two narrative lines run parallel to each other, but I think I would have preferred this to be two separate books. Both are interesting topics, but the DFW experiences overshadowed some really important points that she made about literature and the cha This is a well-written memoir with two separate objectives - relating her experiences as a literary editor at two men’s magazines and her relationship, both personal and professional, with David Foster Wallace. In the second half of the book, these two narrative lines run parallel to each other, but I think I would have preferred this to be two separate books. Both are interesting topics, but the DFW experiences overshadowed some really important points that she made about literature and the changing landscape of publishing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bob Wake

    An instant classic. Adrienne Miller was the fiction editor at Esquire magazine in the late-90s when she was still in her twenties. Crossed paths with Mailer, Updike, Bret Easton Ellis, Dave Eggers, and, the real subject of her book, David Foster Wallace, whom she edited (some of his best short stories appeared in Esquire, including “Adult World (I),” “Adult World (II),” and “Incarnations of Burned Children”), and with whom she shared a romance, off and on, for several years. It’s something of a An instant classic. Adrienne Miller was the fiction editor at Esquire magazine in the late-90s when she was still in her twenties. Crossed paths with Mailer, Updike, Bret Easton Ellis, Dave Eggers, and, the real subject of her book, David Foster Wallace, whom she edited (some of his best short stories appeared in Esquire, including “Adult World (I),” “Adult World (II),” and “Incarnations of Burned Children”), and with whom she shared a romance, off and on, for several years. It’s something of a lurid tell-all (one review is titled “Infinite Jerk”), but offers lots more about the era, its literature, its sexism, and the rise and fall of glossy magazine publishing at a time when the Internet was just taking hold. Miller chose not to talk with D.T. Max for his biography of Wallace, so the material presented here is largely uncharted and eye-opening. Her respect for Wallace as a writer is worshipful. The mind games she endured during their wildly complicated relationship are jaw-dropping. The richest, fullest portrait of David Foster Wallace that has so far appeared in print. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Leavitt

    I loved this book. Miller worked for Esquire and GQ before the MeToo era, and when the literary giants were all men. Here, she details her time as the fiction editor of GQ and includes her fraught relationship with David Foster Wallace. Not only is Miller really astute about things like power, chauvinism and writing, but her detailing of her relationship with Wallace is so, so moving. Loved this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This is a highly uneven book. First of all, kudos to Miller for holding her own as Literary Editor at Esquire for 9 years. Her description of work there, the authors she met and her struggle to balance her feminist ideology with the job was worth reading. I have mixed feelings about the material covering her relationship with David Foster Wallace. (This is more than half the book.) They were lovers and then later friends. He was ten years older than her, neurotic as hell, and haunted by many thin This is a highly uneven book. First of all, kudos to Miller for holding her own as Literary Editor at Esquire for 9 years. Her description of work there, the authors she met and her struggle to balance her feminist ideology with the job was worth reading. I have mixed feelings about the material covering her relationship with David Foster Wallace. (This is more than half the book.) They were lovers and then later friends. He was ten years older than her, neurotic as hell, and haunted by many things, all of which permeated their relationship. She documents these things and the turmoil she found herself in, in raw prose. He is bigger than life on the pages of her book, as he may well have been in her life at that time, and she unfortunately gives him more space on the page than she gives herself. The rest of her life almost disappears in these chapters. Too much of the book is one-sided conversations (DFW’s) followed by her small, brittle complaints about things he said or did. The big-picture, wisdom-gained perspective from looking back twenty years later is reserved for the wrap-up chapter. I think that her story would have worked better as a novel (similar to what Lisa Halliday did with Asymmetry) where she could find some distance from the gigantic person of DFW.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie G.

    This is a pretty wonderful book. Yes, as the other reviews state this book spends a good deal of time looking at Miller's relationship with David Foster Wallace. That relationship was a truly formative one, clearly one of the most important of Miller's life, and through the anger and meanness its clear that she loved him. I think he loved her too, but that is less clear, and since this is her story it is also less important. DFW was a deeply troubled man, but also a genius - not because people s This is a pretty wonderful book. Yes, as the other reviews state this book spends a good deal of time looking at Miller's relationship with David Foster Wallace. That relationship was a truly formative one, clearly one of the most important of Miller's life, and through the anger and meanness its clear that she loved him. I think he loved her too, but that is less clear, and since this is her story it is also less important. DFW was a deeply troubled man, but also a genius - not because people say so, but because every time I read his work (I have read most of what he wrote, and he was really prolific) even the puff pieces, I see something I have never seen before. He was a true original. He was also sick and cruel and manipulative, but that does not make him less than he was or diminish his impact on literature or on Adrienne Miller. I found the DFW sections fascinating. I also enjoyed the reminiscences of the very last moments of the heyday of print journalism. Some people are interesting in their marrow, DFW, Hunter Thompson, Abraham Lincoln are great examples. Some people are interesting because of what they have done, and what has happened around them, and Adrienne Miller is a great example of that. (I am sure she is a wonderful person, she seems smart and lovely and grounded, but most of us are good and not inherently fascinating.) I know its supposed to be all feministy to reject great male writers who are not feminist. I reject that rejection. If you want me to turn in my feminist card I am happy to do that, but I have been fighting for women's autonomy, physical and intellectual, since before most of the pearl-clutching reviewers were born so I'm good. People treat each other like shit in relationships (whether family, friends or lovers), that is especially true of narcissists who hate themselves (I recently read Marquis deSade 120 Days of Sodom and oh.my.god!) That does not make either party less-than, and it does not make the relationships less interesting. Recommended. I did think the beginning dragged a little given that it covered a point where her rise was meteoric, but once Miller got to Esquire it moved with alacrity. A very high 4, but not quite a 5.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Miss Bookiverse

    Abandoned after 50%. I thought this would be a powerful career story of a female editor making her way in the male-dominated publishing business. And it kind of was that but instead of empowering it felt annoying and boring because it focused more on all the white men (especially David Foster Wallace) around Adrienne Miller instead of on herself. The small insights into the publishing world and into editing fiction weren't worth another 6 hours of Miller handling whiney, entitled men's first wor Abandoned after 50%. I thought this would be a powerful career story of a female editor making her way in the male-dominated publishing business. And it kind of was that but instead of empowering it felt annoying and boring because it focused more on all the white men (especially David Foster Wallace) around Adrienne Miller instead of on herself. The small insights into the publishing world and into editing fiction weren't worth another 6 hours of Miller handling whiney, entitled men's first world problems.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison M.

    From the moment I started reading In the Land of Man, I couldn’t put it down. As if Adrienne Miller is sitting beside you, telling you the truths of her early career with unsurpassed skill, wit and humor. This is a must read for any young woman or man about to enter the literary world. It is a tribute to any woman who has navigated her career with finesse and fortitude. And watch out. You will never read David Foster Wallace’s work in the same way again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    "Sexism and Genius Collide In the Land of Men" https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/bo... "Sexism and Genius Collide In the Land of Men" https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/bo...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg Zimmerman

    First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c... Adrienne Miller had the toughest easiest dream job ever: She was the fiction editor for Esquire in the late 1990s, which I don't know about you, but I think that sounds awesome. The late 1990s were the last gasp of the golden age of print magazines, but also the last hold out for the 'ol boys club that was the magazine industry. And nowhere exemplified that more than Esquire, the long-time publisher of dudes like Norman Mailer and John Up First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c... Adrienne Miller had the toughest easiest dream job ever: She was the fiction editor for Esquire in the late 1990s, which I don't know about you, but I think that sounds awesome. The late 1990s were the last gasp of the golden age of print magazines, but also the last hold out for the 'ol boys club that was the magazine industry. And nowhere exemplified that more than Esquire, the long-time publisher of dudes like Norman Mailer and John Updike, not exactly known for their progressive stances on women. In the Land of Men is Miller's memoir of her time first at GQ, then at Esquire. It's really two books in one — the first half is about her career in the magazine field, and it's fascinating. But then the bomb: She meets, forms a friendship, and then begins dating the one and only, the mercurial, the brilliant David Foster Wallace. Miller discusses the first time she met DFW, at the launch party for Infinite Jest, which, just reading that bit made quake with jealousy. But then, seemingly overwhelmed by all the attention, he sort of snubs her and her boss, and she thinks he's kind of a jerk. But soon, she and DFW begin working together on a story, and he calls her (he doesn't do email) all the time, even during non-work hours. Their conversations quickly crossover from the practicalities of editing his story to the more personal. He's living in Bloomington, Illinois, at the time, but comes to NYC periodically for publishing things, and they make a "date" for the next time he's there. They're supposed to play tennis, but the courts are booked solid, so they just walk and talk and have a picnic. He's supposed to go to a dinner that night, and asks her to come with him back to his hotel room to hang out while he gets ready. Then, one of my absolute favorite details of the whole book: He's showering and leaves the door half open, which she thinks is odd. But then she writes that he tells her later he did that because he was hoping she'd join him in the shower. Ah, the male mind: Infinitely optimistic, against all reason. So their relationship continues, long-distance and once-in-awhile-in-person. She likes him, despite his insecurity and his penchant for being distant and emotionally detached (and sometimes even cruel). He genuinely respects her as a reader and editor — which she doesn't get quite often as a young woman in a male-dominated field. (There is a lot in this memoir about the horrendous sexism she had to deal with. It's really saddening.) But because she's unwilling to move to Bloomington and he's unwilling to move to New York City, their relationship begins fading, and then bombs out in dramatic fashion. When this book first crossed my radar (it came out earlier this year), and I realized it's a memoir about magazine editing, with new details about David Foster Wallace, my first thought was "Wow! This might be the perfect book for me." I wouldn't say it was a perfect reading experience — Miller is a good writer, but man, there are a lot of darlings here that should've been murdered (what's the saying about how editors never follow their own advice when they're writing themselves). But I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though you take most of the insight into DFW with a grain of salt, it's still a fascinating new angle.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nayley Husbaum

    In Miller's hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she proves herself to be among the class of brilliant writers and thinkers that she is reflecting on. Through her intellectual relationship with David Foster Wallace, Miller displays her genius as a woman who was unafraid to push, criticize and motivate one of the most prolific writers of the era. In doing so, she also highlights the nature of the male dominated literary world, in which it is the job of brilliant women like Miller, who is a writer and In Miller's hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she proves herself to be among the class of brilliant writers and thinkers that she is reflecting on. Through her intellectual relationship with David Foster Wallace, Miller displays her genius as a woman who was unafraid to push, criticize and motivate one of the most prolific writers of the era. In doing so, she also highlights the nature of the male dominated literary world, in which it is the job of brilliant women like Miller, who is a writer and intellectual herself, to prop up the ideas of brilliant-- but destructive-- men, while these men tend to their own success. The most impressive aspects of the memoir are the narrative thread, which is packed with humor and some truly sharp observations, and the dialogue. Miller has a way with dialogue. Some of the DFW quotes included in the book are truly a gift. The "character" of DFW is so real, so multifaceted-- he is both devil and angel-- that reading his quotes will make you shiver. Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the book is how Miller weaves him into the narrative. The first half of the book, in learning about Miller's literary ascent, she becomes the "hero": modest, smart, and funny, she is easy to root for. Then, DFW-- a God to many-- is introduced to her already-established narrative. By framing her story in this way, Miller makes it so that David, upon entering the memoir, is not our hero. But he's not our villain, either. His presence in the book is both threatening and charming, lovely and disgusting. He is a necessary evil, whose deliciously wicked acts highlight Miller's struggles as a woman in the Land of Men. You will want to recommend this book to everyone you know. Can't wait for her next book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    "The truth: my world had been built around protecting male egos. This was the world I lived in. This was the world I knew, and I never believed this world could, or would, change. It seemed incomprehensible that the system could ever collapse." It's so easy to judge a book like this, and I felt pretty damn judgy while reading parts of it. The way she excuses DFW over and over again is gross, and I have a feeling we didn't get anywhere near the worst of it. Not even the half of it. Also, I've nev "The truth: my world had been built around protecting male egos. This was the world I lived in. This was the world I knew, and I never believed this world could, or would, change. It seemed incomprehensible that the system could ever collapse." It's so easy to judge a book like this, and I felt pretty damn judgy while reading parts of it. The way she excuses DFW over and over again is gross, and I have a feeling we didn't get anywhere near the worst of it. Not even the half of it. Also, I've never had to google so many words in my life! This being said, who hasn't been in a super shitty relationship? I mean, come on. And her vocabulary is just clearly a lot better than mine (though I would argue that mine is quite good and some of her twenty-five cent words should have been cut). Despite these things, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love her prose, and I loved getting a view into this world. It's honest. Sure, it's not *totally* honest, but that's okay. I would read this book again, which is about the highest praise I can give any book. Thanks to Miller and women like her, all of us have more space in the literary world. Sure, she didn't publish many women (or only a few of the most famous ones, and close to zero POC) but she was just holding on herself, and barely. That world has changed so much in the last twenty years and I'm thankful to Miller for playing a role in that change. I'm not a DFW fan but I enjoyed reading about a young Dave Eggers. But mostly I enjoyed reading about a young Adrienne.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Miller is brilliant and witty as she recounts her rise from a young innocent editorial assistant at GQ to becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire! Pretty incredible! The era Miller ascended in was before MeToo, before women had positions equal to men. She offers a vivid portrait of what the literary magazine world and culture looked like back in the 90's. (Exceedingly Masculine) How she, a young woman had to find her place working alongside men, critiquing their work and being bold Miller is brilliant and witty as she recounts her rise from a young innocent editorial assistant at GQ to becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire! Pretty incredible! The era Miller ascended in was before MeToo, before women had positions equal to men. She offers a vivid portrait of what the literary magazine world and culture looked like back in the 90's. (Exceedingly Masculine) How she, a young woman had to find her place working alongside men, critiquing their work and being bold and unapologetic at a time, in an industry where this was vastly unheard of. She covers her intricate relationship with David Foster Wallace. She was his editor. He at the time (1990's) was one of the most noteworthy authors out there. I myself knew nearly nothing of him but her characterization offers insight into a complicated man with an intelligent literary mind. I'm interested to check out his work. For thoes out there that were already fans you wont be disappointed with her glimpse behind the scenes.The second half of the book is mostly dedicated to him. Miller has a gift with words and I found this a facinating, inspiring read. I personally did enjoyed the first half a bit more. Her recap of her climb to working literally in a land of men was so interesting! • Thank You to the tagged publisher for sending me this book opinions are my own. • For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This felt...bland. Superficial. Choppy and scattered between her life at Esquire and her relationship with David Foster Wallace. She hit a couple of interesting points and then was off without actually saying anything about them. Whether we can read into a writer's real life through the fiction they write. How people can be good and bad. At one point she brings this up and says I just don't know. And I felt that this was her summary of the big questions in life, and her reason for writing this m This felt...bland. Superficial. Choppy and scattered between her life at Esquire and her relationship with David Foster Wallace. She hit a couple of interesting points and then was off without actually saying anything about them. Whether we can read into a writer's real life through the fiction they write. How people can be good and bad. At one point she brings this up and says I just don't know. And I felt that this was her summary of the big questions in life, and her reason for writing this memoir, "I just don't know." Nobody has any absolute answers to life, but I am not any further illuminated after reading this memoir. I do respect her writing this memoir though. Especially in terms of her relationship with DFW. There are several times where she writes of his insecurities and his controlling nature of what he wants the world to know about him. How he would tell her "dead man's talk" for things he didn't want her to share with anyone else (frustratingly, I still don't understand this phrase and it isn't explained) and a couple of time's I thought hey, here she is telling these things. But then at one point she does address this and says "But this is my story." I think it is a respectful and truthful account of her relationship. I know and have already gotten a glimpse through the reviews on GR that people will accuse her of exploiting the relationship for her own gain, but even though I didn't enjoy this memoir I don't think that accusation holds true at all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Becoming the literary editor at Esquire at 25 is pretty incredible, especially, as is the crux of this memoir, for a woman in the nineties. Her depiction of the culture and climate of the magazine world, and learning to become an editor, is a great mix of dish-y details and reflection. Readers looking for insights into David Foster Wallace won’t be disappointed as she devotes most of the second half of the book to their personal and professional relationship. Her steady, cool style is the polar Becoming the literary editor at Esquire at 25 is pretty incredible, especially, as is the crux of this memoir, for a woman in the nineties. Her depiction of the culture and climate of the magazine world, and learning to become an editor, is a great mix of dish-y details and reflection. Readers looking for insights into David Foster Wallace won’t be disappointed as she devotes most of the second half of the book to their personal and professional relationship. Her steady, cool style is the polar opposite of Bough Down, the impressionistic griefscape by DFW’s wife following his suicide.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Ashbrook

    Beautifully written and very interesting. Loved the trip down memory lane. Thank you Goodreads Giveaways.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fraser Simons

    https://medium.com/springboard-though... Adrienne Miller’s memory is a fabulously keen thing. Her memoir is vivid and detailed and, to the dismay of some critics, apparently, approached entirely on her own terms. Having entered the publishing world of GQ and, later, in 1997, the imminent Esquire, Miller proceeds to carve an almost Mad Men like career. Almost. Her boss only reigns in the spending, otherwise, it appears she is able to do what she likes and does it well. But even from the start, she f https://medium.com/springboard-though... Adrienne Miller’s memory is a fabulously keen thing. Her memoir is vivid and detailed and, to the dismay of some critics, apparently, approached entirely on her own terms. Having entered the publishing world of GQ and, later, in 1997, the imminent Esquire, Miller proceeds to carve an almost Mad Men like career. Almost. Her boss only reigns in the spending, otherwise, it appears she is able to do what she likes and does it well. But even from the start, she feels something is amiss. As though she thought she’d acquired something else with the position… but it had yet to arrive. Just as consumers do now, truncating the thin barrier that once gave some measure of privacy to the artist in capitalism — too many men in Miller’s lane seem to have no problem whatever dismissing Adrienne’s professional position and person. It seems to many men in this scene, the only thing that had shifted with her position — was that now they had access to her; a desirable woman. Adrienne recalls early on that an author’s agent tells her, face-to-face, matter-of-factly, that she “has no authority” to do her job. This punctuated by lunches and dinners — all established as working — more men treat her as they presumably treat any other woman. Sometimes with verbal abuse. Sometimes submitting unwanted sexual advances. As when a writer submits a piece of work and is published, Miller’s entrance and acceptance come with the unadvertised dynamics of being transformed into a commodity. People want a piece of her; whatever they can get, apparently. Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t to say that she doesn’t also wield some power, it is just being constantly tested in a series of raptors-attacking-an-electrified-fence-like-encounters by the men in this space. She’s a tastemaker. She is in the “red hot” center of the literary world. She has sole control over what is published in a pretty big deal magazine. So what is power, precisely, if it isn’t acknowledged by those in the kingdom? Miller appears to have been let into a poker game, only no one has told her the rules and she is made to feel like she is constantly bluffing because they keep telling her she is; so she must be. Is power afforded to women merely a seat at a table with people you’d rather not play with? For about half the memoir Miller recounts with clarity, detail, and adroit prose, these working years. It is enticing and also proves she was probably fantastic at her job. Her contentment radiates as she talks about how hard it is to reject pieces, which pieces spoke to her, and why. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Despite the cancerous interactions that occur from time to time. But then a shift occurs. The latter half of the memoir contains her final years, which become somewhat arrested due to two things: Esquire slowly stops publishing pieces, and David Foster Wallace inserts himself into her life (who, by the way, deserved an actual arrest, apparently). This shift is also quite clever and unique to any memoir I’ve yet read. What is it like to work in this Land of Men? The first half encompasses that. What does it feel like? The relationship she has with DFW is an apt analogy as ever there was one. Clearly, Miller is aware of how her framing of the memoir will be received by some critics today, because she telegraphs it in the critical reactions of other things in her recounting. And she’s right, as she was back then, with her finger on the pulse of the critics. The reviews online often critique the memoir for her allowing Wallace to dominate a narrative that ought to be about her, for the most part (even as they use pictures of DFW rather than Adrienne attached to these pieces critiquing the memoir, ironically). Why doesn’t she talk more about the business and the inside baseball? That’s what is actually interesting here, according to them. This could be more feminist, couldn’t it? It feels like it’s maybe two books. It would be funny if it wasn’t sad. They’ve missed the point of the memoir, foreshadowed from the start: David Foster Wallace, being the embodiment of the writing scene at the time, is synonymous with the traversal of her later career as an editor. It is one story. It isn’t inside baseball and then also a eulogy to DFW. What does it feel like to edit Esquire? You get who she was before Wallace, and the way she was after Wallace, and why. It feels like being subsumed and gaslit. Discounted; underestimated; manipulated. Miller’s romantic relationship with DFW is foreshadowed and, retrospectively, inevitable, when considering the stories he submits to her for publication and editing. These same pieces she edits professionally become embodiments of how he treated her (and probably others). And because the memoir is about the dynamics of power, even the structure of the memoir itself, with over 50% of it being about Wallace, is in service to that goal. Her passion for her job and life dwindles within the omnipresence of Wallace. And he must also, therefore, dominate the page count. Only with 20 years of perspective and reflection is Miller able to see what her story and her career and her relationship was actually like. People are complicated. Trauma is complicated. Disentangling the two cannot really be done. Why would you ever edit out trauma or, really even the complexities of a man, when the topic and aim is to discuss the negotiation of a man’s world? His world, in particular. Is it unfortunate that so much of it must involve Wallace? Sure. In the sense that it is unfortunate that these things happened to her. To wish that Miller talked less about Wallace is a banal wish that the world was different and she never went through these things and now feels the way she does about them. It isn’t a different world. The memoir is Miller’s story because of and despite Wallace’s overbearing presence in it. It’s what makes it unique. It’s what makes it good.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dan Solomon

    There are a couple of ways to interpret the half of the book that dominates the conversation around it (and a lot of the reviews I’ve read favor the less charitable one), but I think the book is very intentional about being frustrating in how it frames and makes excuses for David Foster Wallace’s genuinely shitty treatment of both the author and, er, pretty much everybody else. Miller does a really compelling job of clearly articulating all of the behaviors that made the dude such a fucking dick There are a couple of ways to interpret the half of the book that dominates the conversation around it (and a lot of the reviews I’ve read favor the less charitable one), but I think the book is very intentional about being frustrating in how it frames and makes excuses for David Foster Wallace’s genuinely shitty treatment of both the author and, er, pretty much everybody else. Miller does a really compelling job of clearly articulating all of the behaviors that made the dude such a fucking dick and how it made her feel, then dips back into the perspective of a 27-year-old whose insecurities butt up against the validation she receives because the Most Famous and Important Writer Alive is interested in her. It’s extremely frustrating sometimes because you just want to see a good, cathartic fuck-you to this guy, but that’s for us as the reader to bring to the story she tells, not something we get to take away from the author. In conclusion, fuck David Foster Wallace, this book is a lot, but mostly it’s really good at bringing us into a particular space that it’s worth being in.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    While there are really interesting parts of this book, there is also a lot that drags. Parts of it read like a first draft that needed editing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin Ayash

    I really enjoyed reading this. The writing is excellent and I am close to Ms. Miller's age, so reading about her journey from small town Ohio to New York felt like the path not taken/path I didn't even know about for this California girl. Much of the literary inside baseball was over my head, but the writing is so good that it didn't matter. And Ms. Miller's frank reporting of the gross sexist behavior of her colleagues and industry contacts was unsurprising, but important and dare I say enterta I really enjoyed reading this. The writing is excellent and I am close to Ms. Miller's age, so reading about her journey from small town Ohio to New York felt like the path not taken/path I didn't even know about for this California girl. Much of the literary inside baseball was over my head, but the writing is so good that it didn't matter. And Ms. Miller's frank reporting of the gross sexist behavior of her colleagues and industry contacts was unsurprising, but important and dare I say entertaining.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hanns

    Terribly written “memoir” filled with lies about the late David Foster Wallace. It’s disgraceful to all literature the depths Miller goes exploiting a tragic death for personal gain. Everything she writes is one sided and I can’t imagine how Amy and David’s parents feel knowing this is the exact bullshit David did NOT want after his death- which even miller herself seems to understand yet without shame proceeds to slander a man who can no longer get defend himself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    What a beautiful and compelling memoir! This is a MUST read, and there is so much here to discuss! It's the story a young woman who worked as an assistant in a very male environment, think Devil Wears Prada, but if Andy was in a much tougher workplace, who had in addition to the normal assistant job headaches, had to deal with sexual harassment around every corner! It's also like if Mad Men was more focused on Peggy's POV instead of Don Draper's. The characters around her, especially the editor What a beautiful and compelling memoir! This is a MUST read, and there is so much here to discuss! It's the story a young woman who worked as an assistant in a very male environment, think Devil Wears Prada, but if Andy was in a much tougher workplace, who had in addition to the normal assistant job headaches, had to deal with sexual harassment around every corner! It's also like if Mad Men was more focused on Peggy's POV instead of Don Draper's. The characters around her, especially the editor Art, really come to life. We also get some backstory on Adrienne, and I found her obsession with the film Amadeus growing up totally fascinating, and see how it many ways it foreshadows things to come in her own life and career. From there, Adrienne moves out of the assistant world, and gets a job as an actual editor, as the first female literary editor at Esquire. The magazine has a long tradition of publishing the top male writers -- Normal Mailer, John Updike, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc, and the editors before her have been legendary, and also all men. As a young woman with that job, in the all male culture of Esquire, she has her hands full. She tries to carve out her place, and fend off male harassment, men who think she's unqualified for the job and want to take her down, and even finding out one of her close male colleagues, who is at the same level as her, is making TWICE her salary. She's up against great odds, and just trying to get by. She works with many writers, and focuses on her professional and personal relationship with David Foster Wallace, the writer of his generation, and the writer she worked with most. Their dynamic is fascinating, the dialogue between them (and throughout the book, really), is riveting. They seem like equals, and David depends on Adrienne for her smarts, and Adrienne is fascinated with Wallace's writerly talent. Yes, David is manipulative, but the book presents him fairly, as someone who is complex, someone who can be the most amazing person, and also the worst -- in other words, he is a HUMAN BEING. He clearly loves her, and she loves him, and they also respect each other. The book goes deeper into their dynamic, and their work on stories is actually page-turning to read about. This has to be the best and most vivid portrayal of David Foster Wallace out there, but it's really Adrienne who we see as a remarkable and very relate-able character. The writing here is beautiful. It's a funny book, and a very moving one, and I was inspired by her journey. This is the best book I have read in a long time. Thank you Adrienne for sharing your journey!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gwendolyn

    This is Adrienne Miller’s memoir about her time as the literary editor of Esquire magazine in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was originally enticed into buying this book because Miller was in a romantic relationship with David Foster Wallace during part of her time as Esquire, and I’m fascinated by DFW. As I was reading the book, however, I became much more interested in Miller herself and less focused on her interactions with DFW. Astoundingly, Miller landed her Esquire dream job at the age This is Adrienne Miller’s memoir about her time as the literary editor of Esquire magazine in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I was originally enticed into buying this book because Miller was in a romantic relationship with David Foster Wallace during part of her time as Esquire, and I’m fascinated by DFW. As I was reading the book, however, I became much more interested in Miller herself and less focused on her interactions with DFW. Astoundingly, Miller landed her Esquire dream job at the age of 25 without any help from family or industry connections. In her self-deprecating style, she explains, “We tend to over dramatize our own agency…luck is at least 80 percent of life and maybe even more than that.” I don’t believe it, though, because Miller shows herself to be passionate, hardworking, and courageous. DFW enters the story about halfway through, and Miller portrays this “dazzlingly complicated person” in a way that highlights his genius without hiding his (pretty enormous) flaws. In addition to DFW groupies, I’d recommend this memoir to anyone who is interested in the art of editing and publishing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kristiana

    I loved this memoir. I underlined and sent screen shots to friends, a lot. Adrienne Miller does the impossible job of writing about her time as the Literary Editor of Esquire and discussing her relationship with David Foster Wallace. Miller discusses how men-centric the magazine world was at the end of its Golden Era. The year is 1997 and she’s the first female literary editor. These parts of the novel sing. It’s filled with all the literary name dropping and behind the scenes magazine life one I loved this memoir. I underlined and sent screen shots to friends, a lot. Adrienne Miller does the impossible job of writing about her time as the Literary Editor of Esquire and discussing her relationship with David Foster Wallace. Miller discusses how men-centric the magazine world was at the end of its Golden Era. The year is 1997 and she’s the first female literary editor. These parts of the novel sing. It’s filled with all the literary name dropping and behind the scenes magazine life one could hope for. I mean, her coworker was Dave Eggers. It is her more complicated relationship with David Foster Wallace where the memoir hurts. Readers know this story is not a happy ending, they know the fate of Wallace, and can assume the fate of Miller's relationship with him. There is sorrow and future loss streaking every page he's on. The foreshadowing of an unhappy end. But these two stories cannot be untangled. To write about her time at Esquire, she must write about Wallace, and to write about Wallace she must tell of the relationship’s dysfunctions. Her insight into power dynamics in relationships are especially poignant. It is a bittersweet read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    I read some of the reviews before I began this book, so I cheated a bit; even so the book was about being a woman in a man’s world and her observations are pretty cogent on that score. (Nothing has changed, by the way.) On the other hand, it was also about being a literary editor (a rare bird these days, at least in magazines). Finally, and probably most importantly, it was about the author’s very personal and professional relationship with David Foster Wallace. Frankly, I haven’t much interest I read some of the reviews before I began this book, so I cheated a bit; even so the book was about being a woman in a man’s world and her observations are pretty cogent on that score. (Nothing has changed, by the way.) On the other hand, it was also about being a literary editor (a rare bird these days, at least in magazines). Finally, and probably most importantly, it was about the author’s very personal and professional relationship with David Foster Wallace. Frankly, I haven’t much interest at all in the so-called literary world (I read for fun and escape these days), but I found the book extremely well-written and quite philosophical on the meaning of work, the rule of men, the struggle of women in the workplace and the emergence of “self-“ all through a very personal filter; her voice was a voice I could listen to and hear.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alina Zerpa

    I really liked this book! While the second half of the book is about her relationship with a well-known author, and she gets hate for it, I think it's important to the story. How else do you tell YOUR story about trudging through THE LAND OF MEN when it also includes LITERALLY BEING WITH THE KIND OF GUY WHO MAKES YOUR LIFE KIND OF HARD!! Having a relationship with a man is normal (if that's your thing) and I don't know why she gets hate for it. It made me happy to read and understand her journey I really liked this book! While the second half of the book is about her relationship with a well-known author, and she gets hate for it, I think it's important to the story. How else do you tell YOUR story about trudging through THE LAND OF MEN when it also includes LITERALLY BEING WITH THE KIND OF GUY WHO MAKES YOUR LIFE KIND OF HARD!! Having a relationship with a man is normal (if that's your thing) and I don't know why she gets hate for it. It made me happy to read and understand her journey, both professionally and personally. Plus, we all need a few shitty guys to realize a good one. (and I posted about this on my blog and she DMed me! She's great. Shameless plug: @fromatozmiami)

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