by Julie HaleJanuary, 2005
A good-natured spoof of the literary life
Earning Weinstein comparisons to Jane Smiley and David Lodge, the hilarious debut
Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z. is a perceptive, satirical take on the New York literary scene. Annabelle Goldsmith, a hopeful young poet on scholarship at a prestigious university, becomes an assistant to her writer-hero, Z. Annabelle is eager and thrilled to be working with Z., an acclaimed poet from whom she hopes to learn the secrets of her craft. But what Annabelle gets instead is a crash course in Z.'s tumultuous private life and demanding personality.
Unwilling to act as mentor to Annabelle, Z. turns out to be a self-indulgent prima donna who forces her assistant to grovel, assigning her servile duties. Worst of all, Z. tries to sabotage Annabelle's writing career. Weinstein conjures up an unforgettable cast of characters as the narrative progresses, including Lars, Z.'s husband, her troubled daughter Claire, and Harry Banks, Annabelle's James Joyce-obsessed boyfriend. Offering a complete portrait of the literary life with no detail amiss, from the gravitas of poetry retreats, to the complex politics of writing workshops, to the hierarchy of the university system, Weinstein spoofs the rarefied existence of intellectuals, but she does so with good-natured insight and humor. A successful poet herself, she brings a sense of authenticity to the narrative.
A reading group guide is included in the book.