“Whatever. Being neurotic seemed to be a kind of wild card, an all-purpose explanation.”
—Renata Adler, Speedboat
2. Renata Adler will be speaking at your friendly (Park Slope) neighborhood bookshop, Community, tonight at 7pm. I’ll see you there, k?
3. Do you subscribe to our newsletter? Yes? You’re awesome. No? You should! Because if you did, you would have received, in your inbox this morning, “Our Choral Ode to Renata Adler”:That bemused countenance, that horsewhip braid, that penchant for looking awry. Yep, we’re aswoon for Renata. Re-na-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Re. Na. Ta. We sketch her likeness in our spiral notebooks, adopt her patterns of speech, attempt her confident stance, wear belt-less jeans. We’d launch a 1,000 speedboats in her honor, if we had them. We don’t.
How good would that have made your morning? Sign up for our mailing list here here here here.
This gentleman was reading Renata Adler’s Speedboat on the Q train to work this morning. You can hear Renata live in the flesh tomorrow at 155 Freeman St., between Manhattan & Franklin Aves in Greenpoint, as part of the Issue Project Room “Littoral” event series, tomorrow at 8 p.m. She’ll be reading from her novels Speedboat and Pitch Dark, and talking with our editor Edwin Frank. If you’ve already read Renata’s books, you’ll know the talk could go something like this:
‘I shouldn’t have come,’ the Englishman said, waving his drink and breathing so heavily at me that I could feel my bangs shift. ‘I have a terrible cold.’
‘He would probably have married her,’ a voice across the room said, ‘with the exception that he died.’
‘Well, I am a personality that prefers not to be annoyed.’
‘We should all prepare ourselves for this eventuality.’
A six-year-old was passing the hors d’oeuvres. The baby, not quite steady on his feet, was hurtling about the room.
‘He’s following me,’ the six-year-old said, in despair.
‘Then lock yourself in the bathroom, dear,’ Inez replied.
‘He always waits outside the door.’
‘He loves you, dear.’
‘Well, I don’t like it.’
‘How I envy you,’ the minister’s wife was saying to a courteous, bearded boy, ‘reading Magic Mountain for the first time.’
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.
I drink some milk, feel rather sick from the thickness and richness of it; make some coffee, drink that with warm milk, feel marginally better