I was lying on a Mediterranean boat deck, on a windless day. It was odd that I should be there, but no more odd than my work, or the slums, or the places where people do find themselves as their luck shifts. A girl of eighteen was taking the sun with great seriousness. The rest of our party were swimming, or playing cards below, or drinking hard. The girl was blond, shy, and laconic. After two hours of silence, in that sun, she spoke. ‘When you have a tan,’ she said, ‘what have you got?’
Today Renata Adler’s much-talked-about novels, Speedboat and Pitch Dark, are back in print. The above quotation is from Speedboat, and we think gives a good sense of the episodic style and brutal perception that has made Adler and her novels so influential, and much in discussion recently at places like The New York Times Book Review, New York magazine, 3:AM magazine, The Guardian, Off on a Tangent blog, Chicago Tribune (behind a paywall), Slate, Quarterly Conversation, and The New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog.