A deeply Malcolmian volume on painters, photographers, writers, and critics.
Janet Malcolm's In the Freud Archives and The Journalist and the Murderer, as well as her books about Sylvia Plath and Gertrude Stein, are canonical in the realm of nonfiction—as is the title essay of this collection, with its forty-one "false starts," or serial attempts to capture the essence of the painter David Salle, which becomes a dazzling portrait of an artist. Malcolm is "among the most intellectually provocative of authors," writes David Lehman in The Boston Globe, "able to turn epiphanies of perception into explosions of insight."
Here, in Forty-one False Starts, Malcolm brings together essays published over the course of several decades (largely in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books) that reflect her preoccupation with artists and their work. Her subjects are painters, photographers, writers, and critics. She explores Bloomsbury's obsessive desire to create things visual and literary; the "passionate collaborations" behind Edward Weston's nudes; and the character of the German art photographer Thomas Struth, who is "haunted by the Nazi past," yet whose photographs have "a lightness of spirit." In "The Woman Who Hated Women," Malcolm delves beneath the "onyx surface" of Edith Wharton's fiction, while in "Advanced Placement" she relishes the black comedy of the Gossip Girl novels of Cecily von Zeigesar. In "Salinger's Cigarettes," Malcolm writes that "the pettiness, vulgarity, banality, and vanity that few of us are free of, and thus can tolerate in others, are like ragweed for Salinger's helplessly uncontaminated heroes and heroines." "Over and over," as Ian Frazier writes in his introduction, "she has demonstrated that nonfiction—a book of reporting, an article in a magazine, something we see every day—can rise to the highest level of literature."
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Nonfiction Books of 2013
She examines aspects of "that absurdist collaboration," the psychoanalytic dialogue, from which come "small, stray sell recognitions that no other human relationship yields, brought forward under conditions . . . that no other human relationship could survive." She addresses such subjects as Tom Wolfe's vendetta against modern architecture, Milan Kundera's literary experiments, and Vaclav Havel's prison letters. She explores the somewhat deflated world of post-revolutionary Prague, guides us through the labyrinthine New York art world of the eighties, and takes us behind the one-way mirror of Salvador Minuchin's school of family therapy. And to each subject she brings the incisive skepticism and dazzling epigrammatic style that are her hallmarks.
“Why don’t more people write like [Malcolm]? . . . She is cast from the mold of the Eastern European intellectual: beholden to modernism. as familiar with Kundera’s exile as she is with Freud’s Vienna. This sensibility must grant her the detachment she sometimes so mercilessly employs, but it also gives her an unassailable passion for getting to the center of things.” —Boston Globe
The Crime of Sheila McGough is Janet Malcolm's brilliant exposé of miscarriage of justice in the case of Sheila McGough, a disbarred lawyer recently released from prison. McGough had served 2 1/2 years for collaborating with a client in his fraud, but insisted that she didn't commit any of the 14 felonies she was convicted.
An astonishingly persuasive condemnation of the cupidity of American law and its preference for convincing narrative rather than the truth, this is also a story with an unconventional heroine. McGough is a zealous defense lawyer duped by a white-collar con man; a woman who lives, at the age of 54, with her parents; a journalistic subject who frustrates her interviewer with her maddening literal-mindedness. Spirited, illuminating, delightfully detailed, The Crime of Sheila McGough is both a dazzling work of journalism and a searching meditation on character and the law.
Even as Malcolm brings her skepticism to bear on the claims of biography to present the truth about a life, a portrait of Sylvia Plath emerges that gives us a sense of “knowing” this tragic poet in a way we have never known her before. And she dispels forever the innocence with which most of us have approached the reading of any biography.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Uno de los libros del 2013 para el Publisher Weekly y finalista del premio de la crítica de EEUU
La obra de Janet Malcolm figura destacada en cualquier canon de la no ficción contemporánea, con piezas tan brillantes como la que da título a esta antología, con sus cuarenta y un intentos fallidos de comenzar un perfil del pintor David Salle, que acaban componiendo un retrato excepcional del artista. Malcolm está entre los autores más estimulantes intelectualmente, capaz de convertir «epifanías de la percepción en estallidos de conocimiento» como escribió David Lehman en The Boston Globe.
Esta antología reúne piezas publicadas a lo largo de varias décadas, sobre todo en The New Yorker y The New York Review of Books, que recogen su interés por los artistas y su trabajo, pintores, fotógrafos, escritores y críticos. Explora la obsesión del grupo de Bloomsbury por la creación tanto plástica como literaria; las apasionadas colaboraciones que hay detrás de los desnudos de Edward Weston; y la personalidad del fotógrafo alemán Thomas Struth, que vive «bajo la sombra de su pasado nazi», pero cuyas fotografías muestran «ligereza de espíritu». Se asoma a la ficción de Edith Wharton y a los héroes puros de Salinger. «Una y otra vez», como escribió Ian Frazier, «demuestra que la no ficción, un libro reportaje, un artículo de revista, algo que
vemos a diario, puede alcanzar el más alto nivel literario.»
La crítica ha dicho...
«Cuarenta y un intentos fallidos es una obra notable y a su extraña manera fascinante. Consigue algo muy difícil: explicar algo valioso sobre un tema tan inasible como es el proceso creativo.»
Zoe Heller, The New York Review of Books
«Una excelente colección de ensayos. Malcolm probablemente sea la escritora más dotada del periodismo americano.»
«Periodismo inteligente que siempre se nota que ha sido escrito por un ser humano, con un corazón que late, un sentido moral, una curiosidad muy amplia y un punto de vista.»
Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe
«Sin duda la obra de un genio.»
Adam Kitsch, New York Times
"Janet Malcom has managed somehow to peer into the reticent, reclusive world of psychoanalysis and to report to us, with remarkable fidelity, what she has seen. When I began reading I thought condescendingly, 'She will get the facts right, and everything else wrong.' She does get the facts right, but far more pressive, she has been able to capture and convey the claustral atmosphere of the profession. Her book is journalism become art." —Joseph Andelson, The New York Times Book Review
With the intellectual and emotional precision for which she is known, Malcolm looks at the trial--"a contest between competing narratives"--from every conceivable angle. It is the chasm between our ideals of justice and the human factors that influence every trial--from divergent lawyering abilities to the nature of jury selection, the malleability of evidence, and the disposition of the judge--that is perhaps most striking.
Surely one of the most keenly observed trial books ever written, "Iphigenia in Forest Hills" is ultimately about character and "reasonable doubt." As Jeffrey Rosen writes, it is "as suspenseful and exciting as a detective story, with all the moral and intellectual interest of a great novel."
Her book is a work of journalism as well as an essay on journalism: it at once exemplifies and dissects its subject. In her interviews with the leading and subsidiary characters in the MacDonald-McGinniss case -- the principals, their lawyers, the members of the jury, and the various persons who testified as expert witnesses at the trial -- Malcolm is always aware of herself as a player in a game that, as she points out, she cannot lose. The journalist-subject encounter has always troubled journalists, but never before has it been looked at so unflinchingly and so ruefully. Hovering over the narrative -- and always on the edge of the reader's consciousness -- is the MacDonald murder case itself, which imparts to the book an atmosphere of anxiety and uncanniness. The Journalist and the Murderer derives from and reflects many of the dominant intellectual concerns of our time, and it will have a particular appeal for those who cherish the odd, the off-center, and the unsolved.