In the Land of Men
One of Vogue’s Best Books of the Year
One of Esquire’s Best Books of the Year
One of the Wall Street Journal’s Favorite Books of the Year
One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year: Vogue, Parade, Esquire, Bitch, and Maclean’s
A New York Times and Washington Post Book to Watch
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.
“The memoir I’ve been waiting for: a bold, incisive, and illuminating story of a woman whose devotion to language and literature comes at a hideous cost. It’s Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year updated for the age of She Said: a literary New York now long past; an intimate, fiercely realist portrait of a mythic literary figure; and now, a tender reckoning with possession, power, and what Jia Tolentino called the ‘Important, Inappropriate Literary Man.’ A poised and superbly perceptive narration of the problems of working with men, and of loving them.”— Eleanor Henderson, author of 10,000 Saints
In this intimate account set amid the New York magazine publishing world of the 1990s and 2000s, Miller (The Coast of Akron) focuses on her time as the literary editor of Esquire, from 1997 through 2006, and on her relationship with David Foster Wallace. In 1994, fresh out of college, Miller got an editorial job at GQ and, three years later, at 25, was hired as Esquire's first female literary editor. She was "a young woman... trying to get herself taken seriously in a world of men," which included ego-driven agents, editors, and writers. Miller vividly remembers the "days of paper, days of ink," the time of the Filofax organizer and the large editorial budget. She recalls briefly working with Dave Eggers pre-McSweeney's; getting barked at by Norman Mailer ("I loathed Mailer"); publishing the greats (George Saunders, Jeanette Winterson); passing on others (an excerpt from J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace); and, of course, getting to know Wallace, who contacted Miller in 1998 about a short story submission. The pair dated briefly (Wallace, "a genius," could be "odd, very pushy, maybe even predatory") and they eventually became friends. This intriguing memoir about the literary life of a female editor working in the "last-hurrah days" of print magazine publishing will appeal to book nerds and fans of David Foster Wallace.