On Adrienne Miller’s memoir of her relationship with David Foster Wallace

Laura Marsh in The New Republic:

A young woman—observant, self-conscious, harboring literary aspirations, though not quite sure where she wants to end up—meets an older novelist, and they start dating. He is as famous as it’s possible for a contemporary writer to be. He is obsessed with his privacy: She is not to draw any attention, occupying a hidden corner of his life. In fact, he sets all the terms of their relationship; the age gap benefits him. While there’s plenty of desire, it’s tinged with condescension (even spite), which contributes more than it should to their sexual tension.

In return, he allows her to soak up some of his brilliance, as if by osmosis. Of course, she will have to leave him if she wants to be the star of her own life. The experience is only worth having if it is the precursor to something bigger.

This is, loosely, the arc of Adrienne Miller’s new memoir, In the Land of Men. The book is a recollection of her career as an editor at glossy men’s magazines from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, and of the sexism she encountered on the job. A large part of that story is dominated by David Foster Wallace, the writer she met when she was 26 and he was 36; she published a long and difficult short story of his in Esquire in 1998, and soon after they began an affair.

More here.

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