Adrienne Miller was a naïve twenty-two-year-old from the Midwest when she got a lucky break and was hired as an editorial assistant at GQ. The mid-nineties was still the golden age of print journalism, and a publication like GQ then seemed the red-hot center of the literary world, even if its sensibilities were manifestly mid-century—the martinis, the male egos, and the unquestioned authority of kings. Still, Miller learned to hold her own in a man’s world, and three years later, she forged her own path, becoming the first woman to hold the role of literary editor of Esquire.
She was at Esquire during a unique moment in history that simultaneously saw the last days of the old guard of literary titans and the rise of a new movement, as exemplified by McSweeney’sand by David Foster Wallace. Through Miller’s work as his editor at the magazine, Wallace would become her closest friend, confidant—and antagonist. Here is the untold story of an intellectual and artistic exchange that grew into a highly charged relationship between a young woman finding her voice and one of the most prominent writers of the era. This is a candid portrait of the mercurial man behind the spotlight, and an account of the shrouded literary world, which asks the question: How does a young woman fit into this culture and at what cost? With wit and deep intelligence, Miller presents a moving portrayal of a young woman’s education in a land of men.