Published: April 2013
Janet Malcolm, writes David Lehman in the Boston Globe, 'is among the most intellectually provocative of authors, able to turn epiphanies of perception into explosions of insight.' In Forty-one False Starts one of the world's great writers of literary non-fiction brings together for the first time essays published over several decades. The pieces, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, reflect Malcolm's preoccupation with artists and their work. Her subjects are painters, photographers, writers, and critics. She delves beneath the 'onyx surface' of Edith Wharton's fiction, appreciates the black comedy of the Gossip Girl novels, and confronts the false starts of her own autobiography. As the Guardian has said, 'Her books bring a gimlet-eyed clarity to often fraught and complicated subjects and are so lean, so seamless, so powerfully direct, they read as if they have been written in a single breath.'