Muse by Jonathan Galassi (♦♦♦♦)
Book blurb taken from Barnes & Noble, because after finishing this novel I couldn’t quite summarize it on my own:
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 on its list. Working with his boss, the flamboyant Homer Stern, Paul learns the ins and outs of the book trade—how to work an agent over lunch; how to swim with the literary sharks at the Frankfurt Book Fair; and, most important, how to nurse the fragile egos of the dazzling, volatile authors he adores.
But Paul’s deepest admiration has always been reserved for one writer: poet Ida Perkins, whose audacious verse and notorious private life have shaped America’s contemporary literary landscape, and whose longtime publisher—also her cousin and erstwhile lover—happens to be Homer’s biggest rival. And when Paul at last has the chance to meet Ida at her Venetian palazzo, she entrusts him with her greatest secret—one that will change all of their lives forever.
Absorbing, amusing at times, addictive, and erudite (I had to consult the dictionary every two seconds), Muse is an insider's look at the publishing world, taking place in a fictional publishing house, probably not all that different than real ones in the business.
All the personalities of the book world are depicted here: the larger-than-life author divas and the needy ones, the backstabbing agents, the feuding publishers, the entitled critics...All wonderfully dissected. Instead of emerging as the emotional vampires they very well may be, these personae come alive in full glory, with defects and virtues, but all too human.
DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.