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What Would Lynne Tillman Do? Paperback – April 8, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1935869214 ISBN-10: 1935869213

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Red Lemonade (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935869213
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935869214
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

What Tillman does is write with verve, candor, warmth, and unconventional intelligence. She’s written five novels (American Genius, 2006) and four short story collections (Someday This Will Be Funny, 2011) and many essays, a substantial number of which are showcased in this scintillating retrospective collection enthusiastically introduced by novelist Colm Tóibín. Tillman delves into art, film, literature, politics, memory, failure, and death. Organized alphabetically by subject, the book begins with thoughts about Andy Warhol and moves on to Tillman’s befriending of Paul Bowles and thwarted attempt to make a film based on Two Serious Ladies, a novel by his wife, Jane Bowles. Photographers Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus, writers Gertrude Stein and Edith Wharton, and filmmaker John Waters all snare Tillman’s critical attention. Here, too, are superbly simpatico interviews with Paula Fox and Harry Mathews, and a hilarious account of the Rolling Stones’ first New York concert on May 1, 1965. A self-described writer of “catholic or promiscuous inclinations,” Tillman is an astute and lucid chronicler and critic, vanquisher of complacency, and advocate for unchained creativity and rigorous artistry. --Donna Seaman

Review

Praise for What Would Lynne Tillman Do

"I’ve long admired Lynne Tillman’s criticism. Her writing is founded on curiosity and deep feeling. It’s precise and imaginative, devoid of jargon or cliché. It’s the opposite of what I dislike in criticism, and I know I’m not alone in my appreciation of what she does."—Joanna Fateman, BOOKFORUM

"But like Renata Adler, who experienced a belated renaissance last year, Tillman’s work is ready to be embraced by a new generation of readers. After so many years of waiting for her writing to find its way to more readers, the answer to the question posed on the posters stuck up on buildings in Manhattan and on the cover of her new book couldn’t be more clear: What would Lynne Tillman do? Lynne Tillman would just keep writing."—Jason Diamond, Flavorpill

"[A] singular mastery of rhetoric...palpably excellent...demonstrates a good ear and a knack for skipping to the good part of the story (sex, poison)."—Full Stop

Praise for Lynne Tillman

"Lynne Tillman has always been a hero of mine — not because I 'admire' her writing, (although I do, very, very much), but because I feel it. Imagine driving alone at night. You turn on the radio and hear a song that seems to say it all. That's how I feel...:" — Jonathan Safran Foer

"Lynne Tillman's writing is bracing, absurd, argumentative, and luminous. She never fails to exhibit her unique capacities for watchfulness and astonishment." — Jonathan Lethem

"Like an acupuncturist, Lynne Tillman knows the precise points in which to sink her delicate probes. One of the biggest problems in composing fiction is understanding what to leave out; no one is more severe, more elegant, more shocking in her reticences than Tillman." — Edmund White

“Anything I’ve read by Tillman I’ve devoured.” — Anne K. Yoder, The Millions

Praise for American Genius, A Comedy

“Tillman’s prose builds to poetic brilliance.” — Entertainment Weekly

“What emerges here is a bold showcase of a novel, a cabinet of curiosity, a proposal for what fiction could be.” — New York Times Book Review

“To read Tillman’s tightly woven novel, which meshes inner and outer realms as well as past and present, is to enter into an intense relationship, a communion with another spirit, perhaps with some sort of genius. An involvement that, like all forms of heightened attention, be it friendship, love, hate, or pursuits intellectual or creative, is demanding and bewitching, harrowing and bemusing, revelatory and transforming.” — Donna Seaman, Bookforum

“Reading the novel is like entering a room crowded with peculiar portraits, all brilliantly drawn. The book is a consummate work, one that levels Western history with family dynamics, pet deaths, Manson family references, the Zulu alphabet, skin disorders, and the loss of memory that afflicts us both personally and as a nation. Tillman once again proves herself a rare master of both elegant and associative writing, urging us to enter the moment, which is all we have and simultaneously cannot keep.” — San Francisco Bay Guardian

"If I needed to name a book that is maybe the most overlooked important piece of fiction in not only the 00s, but in the last 50 years, [American Genius, A Comedy] might be the one. I could read this back to back to back for years." — Blake Butler, HTML Giant

Praise for No Lease on Life

"Confirms and enhances her reputation as one of America's most challenging and adventurous writers." — Guardian

“ … should be awarded a special Pulitzer for the most perfect use of the word “moron” in the history of the American novel." — Fran Lebowitz

“[Elizabeth] neither recoils nor romanticizes … She’s a character who stays with you after you put the book down—a creature of occasional dark impulses, intermittent grumpiness and perennial willingness to pull up her socks and deal.” — David Gates, The New York Times Book Review

"A book anyone concerned with urban life, women, or American culture, as it stumbles into the 21st century, must read." — Sapphire

"Exquisite... To encounter a writer of Tillman's acute intelligence writing as well as this is a cause for real celebration." — Independent (UK)

"Tillman describes much of the wearing, wearying routine of the city's daily life — all that garbage, all those druggies and creeps and whores we've met in a million Letterman one-liners jammed into a scrawny crevice of land while the rest of America's so huge and airy and free. But Tillman's book is utopian precisely because it takes those things into account; because its heroine fantasizes about murdering all ‘the morons’ not out of hate, ‘but dignity and a social space, a civil space, actually civilian space.’ … [Tillman] sprinkles the text with dozens and dozens of jokes... Who can't relate? Isn't every public-transportation-riding, rent-paying, law-abiding urban dweller about two or three knock-knock jokes away from homicide?” — Sarah Vowell, Salon

"Richly surreal … yet darkly humorous … Tillman demonstrates her wit, superb observational skill, realism of representation, and verbal eloquence … No Lease on Life is a meditation on the realness and the ridiculousness of daily living. Yet again, Tillman tackles issues on her terms, freshly reshaping traditional literary forms.” — Donna Seaman, Booklist

"We first meet Elizabeth sitting at the window of her East Village apartment at 5 a.m. spinning gruesome revenge fantasies about the noisy hoodlums in the street . . . this novel [is] graced by flashes of bilious wit, a series of funny, inconsequential jokes and an appealingly loopy milieu." — Publishers Weekly

“As energetic and raunchy as a New York street.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“A terribly up-close and personal examination of urban angst and fury. It is also a funny, frightening, and utterly brilliant tour de force.” — Bay Area Reporter

“Darkly humorous . . . [the] New York that one doesn’t see on Seinfeld.” — Library Journal

"In a society that increasingly deals with the unbearable by cleaning ‘it’ up, by sweeping the streets and parks of the homeless and addicted, and/or stashing ‘it’ away (in ghettos, prisons, etc.), No Lease on Life provides a straight-on view and acknowledgment of the unbearable, if not an acceptance. What Elizabeth collects keeps her from sleeping, drives her to thoughts of murder, and yet ‘she [has] to be open ... like a window ... sometimes transparent, usually paradoxical, and always open to tragicomic views of life.’” — Elisabeth Sheffield, Review of Contemporary Fiction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ranbir sidhu on April 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
There's something unique about a Lynne Tillman sentence: almost every sentence she writes carries with it a surprise, a small bomb that explodes later. In reading these essays, and other works by Tillman, I constantly have the feeling that I'm walking on unstable ground held up somehow by very skilled hands. She is in these pages funny, insightful, human, astonishing, and very serious, often all at the same time. And what's particularly refreshing here (and seemed to irk another reviewer) is that she does not lead the reader by the nose, and refuses to come to definite conclusions. These are essays for the 21st century, but written with an eye to how the essay form first originated, which was exactly what the word means, an attempt, an effort, a trial, a venture -- and often into unknown territory. The news Tillman brings back from these explorations is that the essay form, in her hands, is very much alive and vibrant.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Marshall on April 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
In these essays, interviews and occasional pieces, the concision and brilliance of her great novel, American Genius, shines everywhere. In bite size pieces. It's a wonderful book to start with if you don't know her work and you have novel-comittment phobia. Whatever she thinks/writes about, she thinks about seriously and conveys with a wondrous, light agility. Her lack of pretentiousness seems in almost exact measure equal to the seriousness of the project she has taken on. Her interview with the far too little read Etel Adnan is among this reader's favorites. Rare is the Tillman sentence that does not surprise me, challenge me, shed light.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Craig Mod on April 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lynne Tillman, author of more than a dozen books, does many things, but what she does not do is fool — us or her subjects.

What Would Lynne Tillman Do? is a compendium of Tillman's curiosities and interests, interviews and dissections over the past two decades, to which we're now privy as we peek over her shoulder. And what a privilege it is.

She interviews the artist Peter Dreher who has been drawing the same glass everyday since 1974. Except her recording device fails to capture their first interview, forcing her back to repeat the same interview with the man who repeats his paintings. "I think we laughed more the second time," she writes. It's somehow both cute and wry.

On Spike Jonez and Being John Malkovich she frames or summarizes: "To the star-obsessed, being known might mean not having to know yourself, and if you don’t like yourself, this must be freedom."

Writing about the internet in 1995 we join her in exploring the old language of 'cyberspace:' "I love the use of the word gopher; the hiddenness of cyberplaces realized by a furry, furtive animal is futurist anthropomorphism." And the hilarious details she pulls from that then messy world: 'Alt.Baldspot — “Oh, my shiney head, my achin’ baldspot. I’m writing to ask all of you what is the best baldspot shining method …"'

What Would Lynne Tillman Do? is to be read in sequence or out of sequence. It's our encyclopedia to the world through the eyes of Tillman. To be referenced as needed as needs arise. However consumed, and under whatever context, we are never without delight, without feeling witness to Tillman's wonder and that curious, smart lens through which the world enters her mind.
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