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2.78  ·  Rating details ·  478 ratings  ·  104 reviews
From the publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux: a first novel, at once hilarious and tender, about the decades-long rivalry between two publishing lions, and the iconic, alluring writer who has obsessed them both.

Paul Dukach is heir apparent at Purcell & Stern, one of the last independent publishing houses in New York, whose shabby offices on Union Square
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Knopf (first published May 27th 2015)
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Ann I would say : give up. The book suffers from a lack of plot, or rather: the plot is thin and hidden under lots of superfluous verbiage, secondary…moreI would say : give up. The book suffers from a lack of plot, or rather: the plot is thin and hidden under lots of superfluous verbiage, secondary characters and other fillers. (less)
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Average rating 2.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  478 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-swap
“It was not where or who you came from but what you did with your own grab bag of advantages and disadvantages that made you remarkable. He’d learned early on in his work that the real writers hadn’t gone to Yale or Oxford; they came from everywhere - or nowhere – and their determination to dig down, to matter, whatever the odds against them, was the only key to their succeeding”

Muse is the first novel by American poet, translator and publisher of iconic Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jo
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing a critical word about anything having to do with anything even close to Jonathan Galassi feels like sacrilege to this publishing industry let it suffice to say here that this book is a publishing geek's delight, and a common reader's disappointment. The inside-baseball goss about the business is delicious to those in the know...but the book takes too long to get its (fascinating) plot going and this will be an irritation to the civilian reader.
Cecil Vosges
Jan 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Many of the poor notices given to MUSE allude to the boredom of it. It is true, it is boring. But while remaining an incontrovertible defect, this is surely one of its lesser offenses to good aesthetic judgment. Firstly, it is strange that an editor writes a book that is filled so uniformly with clichéd idioms. Opened to any page at random, MUSE yields up its bromides. Ladies men are 'handsome and charming', WASPs are 'card-carrying', a work experience is 'peaches and cream', poems are 'hypnotic ...more
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"This is a love story. It's about the good old days, when men were men and women were women and books were books, with glued or even sewn bindings, cloth or paper covers with beautiful or not-so-beautiful jackets and a musty, dusty, wonderful smell; when books furnished many a room, and their contents, the magic words, their poetry and prose, were liquor, perfume, sex, and glory to their devotees. These loyal readers were never many but they were always engaged, always audible and visible, alive
Tara Mickela
Unless you are an elder employee of a large publishing company or a highly published, wealthy author familiar with the history of the publishing industry, you will struggle to find an enjoyable aspect of this book until about 3/4 of the way through where the characters become more important than the author showing off his knowledge of the publishing industry, which admittedly, is extensive and intelligent, but snore-able.
M.L. Rio
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, literary
I obtained this title free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jonathan Galassi knows what he's talking about. Muse turns the peculiar world of publishing inside-out, and presents a broad, hilarious, and unbelievably believable cast of characters for the reader's examination. This is the best part of the book; Galassi's portrait of the literati is at once poignant, irreverent, and scathingly funny. If you've ever wondered what the book business looks like from the i
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I expected this take on the inner workings of the publishing industry, written by someone who has been on both sides of the fence, as a publisher and a poet, to be snarky and all-knowing. What I did not expect is how charming and delightful a novel it is. Muse is a love letter to the halcyon days of an industry where publishers were larger-than-life, and often more notorious than the authors they represented.

I always read reviews prior to embarking on a new book, mainly to get a feel of
May 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel seemed to me to be almost two books – the first 65%, which didn’t work for me in the slightest bit, and the last 35%, which worked incredibly well.

For the first 65%, I felt as if I was Nick Carraway in “The Great Gatsby”. I was given access to a world populated by those with money and means. A literary world, full of allusions which I didn’t understand. I felt like a complete outsider
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Every poet (or every person with a poet's soul) who has even a hint of nostalgia for a poetry world that is almost gone by should read Jonathan Galassi's MUSE, a roman a clef novel about a young man in the publishing world and a poet of such fantastic renown she'd be Edna St. Vincent Millay (who read to audiences of thousands) AND Elizabeth Bishop, but with a reputation ratcheted up to, say, Meryl Streep. But much more warmly interesting is the young editor and narrator of the novel as he portra ...more
Rita Arens
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For best results, start on page 85.

You know how in the Bible there are chapters that spend sixty-five lines telling who begat whom? The first part of this book is like that. All you need to know is that Stern and Homer own two competing indie presses and both want to publish the fictional but fabulous Ida Perkins. Paul works for Homer but is friendly with Stern. He's also fascinated by Ida.

I can't even describe how odd it is for me to have such a good book emerge after I nearly quit
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast read, almost lyrical prose. I felt like an outsider to a club for book lovers that I desperately wanted to belong to. Especially after the introduction. Pick me pick me!!! Although I never quite got inside as I had hoped I would with continued reading, I did feel the emotion that the author feels for books, poetry, and the fictionalized Ida, who I look forward to reading in 2020.
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was filled with unknown (to me) names and companies and trends and so on, that is probably the reason the better half of the book wasn't well understood by me but the last part of it was quite tragic and interesting and I was touched by Ida P's poetry - its' simplicity reminded me of Russian 19th century classics (like Pushkin).
Greg Zimmerman
Ugh. A long-winded, name-dropping inside joke for deep publishing insiders. Plot only emerges in the second half, and is interesting - a dude gets to publish a famous poet's last manuscript. But not enough to save this sleep-inducing novel.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work
I just don't know who the intended reader of this book was. It certainly wasn't me. There are lovely moments, but for me, they were only moments. Good writing and good poetry, but they didn't carry the story enough.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are not as obsessed with books and the publishing industry as I am, you may not like this novel as much as I did. I loved the insight into publishing, and the muse behind the scenes. Galassi writes well.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't finish. This book seems to be the self involved musings of a publisher and poet trying to prove that he knows more than anyone about publishing and poets. I'm convinced but bored to tears. No thanks
Text Publishing
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humour
Falling in love with a famous poet can be more trouble than it's worth.

Apologies to the poets out there.
Don't blame me. I'm just following Jonathan Galassi's thinking here.
Ronald Koltnow
Reviews of this book online have been tepid, yet that is understandable. Unless one has worked in publishing, the charms of Galassi's debut novel may evade the reader. This novel is ultimately about love -- the love of books and authors, the love of one's family (whether birth family or surrogate family), and ultimately about romantic love. A young man idolizes poet Ida Perkins, but goes to work at the publishing house that is the sworn rival to Perkins's publisher. With loyalty to one publisher ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"Muse" is the first book by Jonathan Galassi that I've read, and I hope that this book isn't typical of his publications. Although it is a good introduction to the world of publishing, I've read others that were more intriguing and kept my interest better, such as those by publishers themselves - the Knopf family, for example - I will say that I enjoyed Galassi's style and the portrait of his leading character, Paul. But if I had had thoughts of writing a book and getting it published, or of ent ...more
Kristina Harper
The first two or three chapters of Muse were tedious and difficult to get through, unless, I suspect, you are intimately involved in the publishing world or a serious student of poetry. I came close to putting it down unfinished. But in the end, I’m glad I stuck with it—things pick up when the personal stories of the characters are told, and the end is terrific.
Kristen U
Aug 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are very few books that I find so uninteresting that I can't finish it, but this book just made the list.

I am not sure if it was the story itself, the style in which it was told or a combination of the two. But I couldn't connect with the characters o find a interest in the story line.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Just could not catch the story on this - 70 pages in and I definitely am not invested in the characters
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a slow starter, and I had to get used to the style, but I enjoyed the insider writing and publishing basis of the story's plot.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel bad about the low rating. The author clearly loves books and, especially, authors. I appreciate that. His gifts may lie in editing and publishing, not in crafting his own tale.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Audible; Morey, narrator). Much of this satire is too inside for the hoi polloi like me, but the chapter describing the Frankfurt Book Fair makes the book worth a listen.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If this had been a library book and not a gift, I'd have given up before page 10. The book improves near the end, but not enough to redeem it. I believe a good book should reel the reader in quickly and never let go.

I mostly read literature. I'm a poet. I have a lot of experience in the powerless side of the publishing world, so a book called Muse about literary publishing called my name. Still I absolutely hated the first 80 or so pages for the same reasons I don't watch Mad Men. My mother
Rebecca Wilkins
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book got better the further into it but it was confusing. There were so many names and I never knew if they were real people, fictional people or fake names given to real people. I couldn't keep track of the time-line either. There is a little story here but more toward the end. I kept wondering if Ida Perkins was a real poet and then see in the back where it lists a bibliography that books written about her were done in 2020! This is 2016 so she must be fictional. I also couldn't believe o ...more
Leticia Vila-Sanjuán
For publishing folks
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Jonathan Galassi born 1949 in Seattle, Washington, is the President and Publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, one of the eight major publishers in New York. He began his publishing career at Houghton Mifflin in Boston, moved to Random House in New York, and finally, to Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He joined FSG as executive editor in 1985, after being fired from Random House. Two years later, he ...more
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“Being in love is arguably the least productive of human states.” 2 likes
“He’d come to appreciate that writers were just like everyone else, except when they were more so. It sometimes seemed that they’d been able to develop their gifts thanks to a lack of inhibition, an inner permission to feel and react, that made them seem self-absorbed and insensitive to the existence of anyone else.” 1 likes
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