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Two Cents about Renata Adler

Posted Mar 18 2013 12:00am

Renata Adler’s two novels, Speedboat (1976) and Pitch Dark (1988), have just been reissued by New York Review Books.  I was pleased to see a recent New York article about her . Here is my two cents:

1. Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker  (2000) is one of my favorite books. It can be summed up like this: Genius corrupts. I first came across it in the Berkeley Barnes & Noble. I couldn’t stop reading it. When I left the store hours later my scooter had a parking ticket.

2. Her libel lawsuit is described here .

3. She wrote a book about the Bilderberg Group called Private Capacity. It was announced then cancelled.

4. During a panel discussion televised on C-Span, she took a phone call. It appeared to be from her daughter.

5. For several years she taught journalism at Boston University. A student said she told great stories.

6. In a book review, she said that Woodward and Bernstein’s Deep Throat was made up. Apparently she was wrong about that.

7. During a dinner I had with Aaron Swartz last summer, he praised her article attacking Pauline Kael (“The Perils of Pauline”, 1980).

8. When her article about Kael came out, a friend of mine said, Now she’ll be known as the person who attacked Kael. My friend was wrong. She is better known as the person attacked by eight articles in the New York Times when Gone was published. One short non-best-selling book, eight negative articles from the most powerful pulpit on earth.

9. Gone and some books by Jane Jacobs were the only books I took to China. I also adore Totto-Chan but I suppose I have memorized it. I mostly read books by men, so I am puzzled that all my most favorite books are by women. A Chinese friend of mine stayed in my Beijing apartment while I was gone. Her English isn’t very good but she praised Gone, which she called Lost.

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