Slowly Panic-Making

July 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

At The Guardian, Renata Adler emerges for an interview in light of the re-release of her novels Pitch Dark and Speedboat by NYRB Classics. She is now 74 and apparently unable to find a comb anywhere in New York. As usual, there is a lot here about The New Yorker, as Rachel Cooke revisits all the bridges Adler burned with her 1999 book, Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker. In that book, she calls Adam Gopnik “a ‘meaching’ brown-nose and arch manipulator.” Her friend Michael Wolff, comparing her career to something millennials might understand, calls Adler “Lena Dunham many times over”; Cooke says Adler “might have been Joan Didion’s younger and slightly more pugnacious sister.”

Apparently we have David Shields (Reality Hunger) to thank for Adler’s fiction being back in print:

Following a campaign by the National Book Critics Circle and by the super-fashionable writer David Shields, who claims to have read Speedboat some 24 times, her two novels are finally back in print, a development that has been widely welcomed even by the New York Times.

Elsewhere her many fans have lined up to acclaim her particular brand of what Katie Roiphe calls Smart Women Adrift fiction (according to Roiphe, who shares her contrarian instincts and a good deal of her bravery, Adler is the absolute mistress when it comes to conveying “the exhaustion of trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense”).

Adler warmed up for her re-emergence at a friend’s book release party back in March, as documented by Boris Kachka in New York Magazine:

“This is slowly panic-making,” Renata Adler says with a husky tremor. Out at her first cocktail party in months, the 74-year-old writer wears, as always, a single thick braid of hair, now gone a straw-tinged gray. “There’s Amanda Burden,” she says of the wellborn chair of the City Planning Commission. “I know Amanda. But see now, either you embrace somebody, thinking, Oh God, maybe they have no idea who I am, or it’s someone who’s my oldest friend and I forget. Should I go over?”


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