Living with a successful writer (especially when you’re a less successful artiste) is a notoriously tortured path—one that has spawned a literary genre of its own, the most recent addition to the club being Kathryn Chetkovich, who’s published “Envy” in the new issue of Granta, about her life with (the unnamed) Jonathan Franzen. Can you match fraught prose with fraught relationship?
A. Kathryn Chetkovich on Jonathan Franzen from “Envy”
B. Claire Bloom on Philip Roth from Leaving a Doll’s House
C. Joyce Maynard on J. D. Salinger from At Home in the World
D. Anne Heche on Ellen DeGeneres from Call Me Crazy
1. “Maybe it was no coincidence that when I was feeling most outstripped by the man’s success and talent … I responded by withholding from him the gift of myself.”
2. “I wrongly assumed that I would be writing things that I could understand … When my Bible was completed, I could not understand one word of it.”
3. “ ‘I read this … this thing you call … your novel … I’m sickened and disgusted,’ he says.”
4. “Beneath his diamond-sharp observation was a deep and irrepressible rage: anger at being trapped in marriage; fear of giving up autonomy; and a profound distrust of the sexual power of women.”
5. “[He] asked if I would read some pages that were giving him trouble … I had the sudden wish to knock him to the floor and hike up my skirt.”
6. “I didn’t know what to do. Do I fire everybody on my team? Do I stand up and scream? Do I go on TV? Do I hide the real me? Do I have more sex?”
7. “I recognize that the completion of the book and its publication next spring is bound to bring about a crisis between the two of us. Writing [it] represents everything [he] has told me not to do and everything he hates.”
Answers: 1. a, 2. d, 3. c, 4. b, 5. a, 6. d, 7. c.
The Write Start
First-time novelist David Amsden talks to New York authors about how they got started.
Dating a writer and seeking revenge? Write back!