The focus here is, to be sure, selective, but that's part of the point, for Adams has no intention of being comprehensive; among the areas he overlooks is his marriage, which ended with the suicide of his wife in 1885.
Adams originally issued "The Education" privately, in 1907; a general edition, cleaned up and modernized, was published after his death in 1918. It has become an American standard, winning a Pulitzer Prize and selected by the Modern Library as one of the hundred best nonfiction books of the 20th century. Now, to commemorate the book's 100th anniversary, a new version of the 1907 original has been released.
"Why would anyone re-edit a book that has satisfied its readers for a century?" editors Edward Chalfont and Conrad Edick Wright ask in an introduction. It's a good question, but their answer -- that they meant to restore the book to the way Adams intended it -- lacks the necessary Adamsian gloss.
No, if "The Education" is a book that opens up the territory of autobiography -- suggesting that there is little difference between life and myth -- let's apply the same standard to this restored edition and identify it, simply, as a labor of love.
— David L. Ulin 4/22/2007
The view of a boss run amok
Is Sally Koslow's "Little Pink Slips" another novelistic treatment of a terrible boss, a la "Blind Submission" or "The Devil Wears Prada"? The novel doesn't officially arrive in bookstores until today, but there's been plenty of buzz about the storyline: a razor-thin roman a clef inspired by Rosie O'Donnell's plunge into the magazine biz a few years ago. Koslow was editor-in-chief of McCall's before O'Donnell arrived in 2000, ready to revamp the magazine -- complete with a name-change to Rosie -- and to take on O, The Oprah Magazine. The venture failed in 2003, and Rosie folded.
According to Publishers Weekly it's hard not to be reminded of O'Donnell by the character of Bebe Blake, a mouthy celebrity who runs amok at the venerable women's magazine Lady. Bebe has a wildly successful TV show and expects that Lady, renamed Bebe, will be a powerful rival to (wait for it) O.
Is Blake O'Donnell? Readers can decide for themselves. But in the meantime, here's a snarky description of the character, from the vantage point of an embattled editor named Magnolia Gold: "Bebe was wearing tight jeans -- Juicy Couture, Magnolia guessed, although she wasn't sure they were made in Bebe's size -- a V-neck Grateful Dead T-shirt that showed deep decolletage, and boots that looked compromised trying to support her. . . . "
— Nick Owchar 4/19/07
Another day, another award
Last night, at New York's Columbia University, Philip Roth picked up the first Grizane Masters Award from the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America "in recognition of his merit as a writer and for introducing the work of Primo Levi to a wider American audience." This is the latest in a long string of awards for Roth -- who earlier this month took home the inaugural PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction -- but the first, one has to think, that honors his role as a reader, in addition to his acuity with the written word.
Certainly, no contemporary fiction writer could be more deserving. Not only does his career, which now spans half a century, offer a remarkably coherent vision of American life since the 1940s, but he has long been a champion of other writers -- Levi, as well as such novelists as Bruno Schulz, Tadeusz Borowski and Milan Kundera, who were first published in this country as part of the Roth-edited series "Writers From the Other Europe."
In his acceptance speech, Roth recalled meeting Levi in 1986, and quoted from a piece he wrote at the time: "It is not as surprising as one might initially think, that writers divide like the rest of mankind into two categories: those who listen to you and those who don't. Levi listens, and with his entire face. . . . It's no wonder that people are always telling him things and that everything is already faithfully recorded before it is written down."
— David L. Ulin 4/18/07
The long and the short of it