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In the Land of Men: A Memoir
by Adrienne Miller

Published: 2020-02-11
Hardcover : 352 pages
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One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year: Vogue, Parade, Esquire, Bitch, and Maclean’s 

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 ...

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Introduction

One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year: Vogue, Parade, Esquire, Bitch, and Maclean’s 

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

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of February 2020: This is the story of how the author became the first female literary editor at Esquire at 25 during what one GQ cover called “the paranoid, PC nineties.” We follow her from her childhood in Ohio as a socially aloof, Martin Amis-obsessed teen to an assistant job at GQ. After a right-time, right-place move to Esquire, she learns how to become an editor amid the deep-rooted sexism of the men’s magazine world. There, she edits authors for whom women “functioned as instruments to male enlightenment.” Those looking for insights into David Foster Wallace won’t be disappointed as she devotes most of the second half of the book to their personal and professional relationship. Many readers will already know about DFW’s puritanical work ethic and intimacy issues. The author’s ability to reconjure their conversations, though, is nothing short of riveting. She struggles with the honor and insult of being dubbed “my perfect reader.” With this deceptively complex memoir that operates by omission and transparency, the author dares us to find her any less interesting and worthy of contemplation than the vaunted literary genius she invites into her story. —Katy Ball

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