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 audiobook about the beguiling interplay between life and art and the eternal romance of literature.
"Galassi conveys the thrill of being dazzled by literature.... He also has fun with the language of reviewing while delivering a casual seminar on American poetry; an extended riff on the Frankfurt Book Fair bespeaks years of painful firsthand experience.... A worthy psalm on the pre-Amazon, pre-digital days of publishing that anyone might appreciate. Galassi rates praise especially for choosing to have some knowing fun with his years in the business." (Kirkus)
"In poet Galassi's first novel, a book editor navigates the world of 21st-century publishing while unraveling the secrets of his lifelong hero, a poet named Ida Perkins.... The fun of this book is watching Galassi weave his fictional characters into real literary history and put his considerable gifts as a poet to good use." (Publishers Weekly)
"Charming.... A novel about a world that exists in memory: an industry still spoken of reverentially as a noble calling rather than a business. Its hero is a bookish young man from upstate New York who is drawn to the down-at-the heels glamour of book publishing. Muse is two parts valentine, one part satire, a loving send-up of a very specific culture. [Here] is a world where intrigue takes the form of a decades-long battle over who gets to publish a charismatic, talented and audacious poet, a writer of sensual poetry with an outsized popular appeal. A reader would not be wrong to see parallels between the characters in the book and industry legends." (Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke, New York Observer
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Wit, poetry, profundity--and delicious nostalgia
Every poet (or every person with a poet's soul) who has even a hint of nostalgia for a poetry world that is almost gone by should read Jonathan Galassi's MUSE, a roman a clef novel about a young man in the publishing world and a poet of such fantastic renown she'd be Edna St. Vincent Millay (who read to audiences of thousands) AND Elizabeth Bishop, but with a reputation ratcheted up to, say, Meryl Streep. But much more warmly interesting is the young editor and narrator of the novel as he portrays (and, with finesse, betrays) the life inside two publishing houses. Galassi is so witty that his moments of profundity are surprises, delicious ones. I listened to MUSE on Audible.com and the narrator, Arthur Morey, was pitch perfect.
Paul, the young editor, who learns by ambition.
All the scenes at the struggling publishing houses.
It's THE perfect title.
- Molly Peacock