Still Pictures | Granta

  • Published: 02/02/2023
  • ISBN: 9781783788361
  • Granta Books
  • 176 pages

Still Pictures

Janet Malcolm

For decades, Janet Malcolm’s books and dispatches for the New Yorker have poked and prodded at biographical convention, gesturing towards the artifice that underpins both public and private selves. Here, Malcolm turns her gimlet eye on her own life, examining twelve family photographs to construct a memoir from camera-caught moments, each of which pose questions of their own.

She begins with the picture of a morose young girl on a train, leaving Prague at the age of five in 1939. From there we follow her to the Czech enclave of Yorkville in Manhattan, where her father, a psychiatrist and neurologist, and her mother, an attorney from a bourgeois family, traded their bohemian, Dada-inflected lives for the ambitions of middle-class America. From her early, fitful loves to evenings at the old Metropolitan Opera House to her fascination with what it might mean to be a “bad girl,” Malcolm assembles a composite portrait of a New York childhood, one that never escaped the tug of Europe and the mysteries of fate and family. Later, Malcolm delves into her marriage to Gardner Botsford, the world of William Shawn’s New Yorker, and the libel trial that led her to become a character in her own drama.

Displaying the sharp wit and astute commentary that are Malcolmian trademarks, this brief volume develops into a memoir like no other.

The Author

Janet Malcolm (1965-2021) is widely considered to be one of America’s most notable literary journalists. She was born in Prague and was educated at the University of Michigan. She was a staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of several critically acclaimed books, including In the Freud Archives, The Journalist and the Murderer, Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey and The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes all published by Granta. She won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award in Biography for Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice (Yale University Press) in 2008. Her final book Still Pictures is forthcoming in 2023.

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From the Same Author

Janet Malcolm on Granta.com

Essays & Memoir | Granta 160

Skromnost

Janet Malcolm

‘The Czech word skromnost means “modesty”, but it also carries a mild sense of forelock-tugging humbleness, of knowing one’s place.’

An excerpt from Janet Malcolm’s final book.

Art & Photography | Granta 126

The Emily Dickinson Series

Janet Malcolm

The Emily Dickinson Series is a collection of collages by Janet Malcolm that appear in Granta 126: do you remember.