or, A Sure Thing
By David Leavitt
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780395902431, 400pp.)
Publication Date: September 2000
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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David Leavitt's deliciously sharp new novel is a multilayered dissection of literary and sexual mores in the get-ahead eighties, when outrageous success lay seductively within reach of any young writer ambitious enough to grab it.
At the dawn of the Reagan era, Martin Bauman -- nineteen, clever, talented, and insecure -- is enrolled at a prestigious college with a hard-won place under the tutelage of the legendary and enigmatic Stanley Flint, a man who can make or break careers with the flick of a weary hand. Martin is poised on the brink of the writing life, and his twin desires, equally urgent, are to get into print and find his way out of the closet.
As he makes his way through the wilderness of New York -- falling in love, going to parties, and coming to terms with the emerging chaos of AIDS -- Martin matures from brilliant student, to apprentice in a Manhattan publishing house, to one of the golden few to be anointed by the highly regarded magazine in which it is every young writer's dream to be published. Yet despite his apparent success, his emotional and creative desires stubbornly refuse to be satisfied, and his every achievement is haunted by that austere and troubling image of literary perfection, his elusive mentor, Stanley Flint.
An irresistibly entertaining epic, erotic, honest, and funny, MARTIN BAUMAN lays bare the life of the artist, in all his venal, envious, poignant glory.
David Leavitt's first collection of stories, Family Dancing, was published when he was just twenty-three and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Prize. The Lost Language of Cranes was made into a BBC film, and While England Sleeps was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. With Mark Mitchell, he coedited The Penguin Book of Short Stories, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand, and cowrote Italian Pleasures. Leavitt is a recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He divides his time between Italy and Florida.
One of his generation’s most gifted writers.”
The New York Times
[Leavitt is] the kind of writer who goes on refining in book after book a select handful of themes . . . to spectacular result.”
The Washington Post
A wizard at blending levity and pathos, Leavitt writes gracefully about wounded, acutely self-conscious characters.”
The Chicago Tribune
"...intelligent, funny, and genuinely revealing." Kirkus Reviews