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 of its list. Read more...
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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 of its list. Thanks to his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, Paul learns well the ins and outs of the book world: how to work an agent over lunch and swim with the literary sharks at Frankfurt; how to marry flattery with criticism when combing over the manuscripts of brilliant, volatile authors. But though things can be shaky in the age of conglomerates and digital, Paul remains obsessed by one dazzling writer: poet Ida Perkins, whose outsize life and audacious verse have shaped America's contemporary literary landscape, and whose longtime publisher--also her cousin and erstwhile lover--happens to be Homer's biggest rival. When Paul at last meets Ida at her secluded Venetian palazzo, she entrusts him with her greatest secret--one that will change all of their lives forever. Enriched by juicy details only a quintessential insider could know, written with both satiric sharpness and sensitivity, "Muse" is a hilarious and touching love letter to the people who write, sell--and, above all, read--the books that shape our lives.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-16
- Reviewer: Staff
In poet Galassi’s first novel, a book editor navigates the world of 21st-century publishing while unraveling the secrets of his lifelong hero, an octogenarian poet named Ida Perkins. The novel opens during the postwar literary boom, when nemeses Homer Stern and Sterling Wainwright launch competing houses—P&S and Impetus, respectively. The protagonist, Paul Dukach, begins working at P&S in the ’90s, when Union Square is still “the city’s major needle park.” The bulk of the story, though, transpires in the aughts, when Paul, driven by his obsession with Ida, befriends Homer’s foe, Sterling, a cousin of the poet. When Sterling gives Paul the cryptic notebooks of Ida’s late love to decode, the project becomes an occasion for a meeting with Ida. This meeting reveals her final, secret collection—the contents of which, Paul realizes, have the potential to turn publishing upside-down. The fun of this book is watching Galassi, who serves as president and publisher of FSG, weave his fictional characters into real literary history and put his considerable gifts as a poet to good use. Indeed, Perkins’ verses (“she smells the ozone” / “after love the fear”) surpass Galassi’s expositions on publishing and its ongoing war against Big Tech. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (June)