In the Land of Men

A Memoir
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of Vogue’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
One of Parade’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
One of Esquire’s 15 Best Books of the Winter
One of Bitch Magazine’s 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020
One of Maclean’s 10 Books to Watch in 2020

“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

A fiercely personal memoir about coming of age in the male-dominated literary world of the 90s, becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire, and Miller's personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace 

A naive and idealistic 22-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-90s. 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.

©2020 Adrienne Miller (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Overwritten Navel-Gazing

I wanted to love this book, which was on many “Best Books of 2020” lists. While the prose is rather beautiful, it is far too often bloated and overly self-conscious. I wish there was more reflection on the lad mag media landscape. Ultimately feels like the over-written diary of a lovesick teenage girl.

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Sort of like two stories

Two-thirds of the way through this book I was agreeing with the other comments that Ms. Miller was naive. In the end I was reminded to not judge art until after listening to/looking at/reading/watching the whole thing. Yes, for awhile I found Ms. Miller's story nearly pathetic, but in the end it was about DFW. While his story is indeed pathetic, it is also brilliant. Ms. Miller certainly captured that from the most intimate of all perspectives. The narratives about the magazine culture in the 90s, while powerful, was all too brief while at the same time seeming like it belonged in another book. Ms. Campbell's narration was again amazing.

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cringe-worthy

The performance is top notch. Adrienne Miller writes very well and comes across as a very appealing, albeit it stunningly naive young woman, who is perhaps still rather stunningly naive after all of these years. Not a good book if one likes David Foster Wallace or young romance, The parts of the books on the publishing industry are interesting enough. Much of the book is like listening to an otherwise appealing, close friend prattle on endlessly about the worst, albeit utterly transparent to any outsider, boyfriend ever, which DFW sounds like he was. One might have expected some professional distance between a writer and his editor at a major magazine, even on a live and learn basis, but nothing like that is explored in this book. And nothing much in here on any writing/editing process. I remain a big DFW fan but I understand that he exhibited a substantial amount of narcissism and even psychopathy when it came to women, which is disappointing and even out right despicable. But one might have expected a woman of Ms. Miller's "caliber" to be a bit less star-struck this long after events. Just my two cents.