Speedboat cover
Special offer:
Offer summary:
(20% off)
Publication date:
March 19, 2013
NYRB Classics
Available as E-Book, Literature in English

When Speedboat burst on the scene in the late ’70s it was like nothing readers had encountered before. It seemed to disregard the rules of the novel, but it wore its unconventionality with ease. Reading it was a pleasure of a new, unexpected kind. Above all, there was its voice, ambivalent, curious, wry, the voice of Jen Fain, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America. Party guests, taxi drivers, brownstone dwellers, professors, journalists, presidents, and debutantes fill these dispatches from the world as Jen finds it.

A touchstone over the years for writers as different as David Foster Wallace and Elizabeth Hardwick, Speedboat returns to enthrall a new generation of readers.

We’re pleased to announce that Speedboat is the March selection of Emily Books, a curated e-book store. You can buy the e-book of Speedboat directly from Emily Books or you can purchase it from other retailers by clicking on the “Available as e-book” link on the right.


She is one of the most brilliant—that is, vivid, intense, astute, and penetrating—essayists in contemporary letters, and most contrarian: much of what you think she will passionately undo. And she is a novelist whose voice, even decades after her books were written, seems new and original, and, if you are a writer, one you wish were your own.
—Michael Wolff, The Guardian

I think Speedboat will find a new generation of dazzled readers.
—Katie Roiphe, Slate

Speedboat is as vital a document of the last half of the American century as Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Right down to its final, just-right sentence, it’s—well, it will literally knock your socks off.
—Michael Robbins, Chicago Tribune

Speedboat captivates by its jagged and frenetic changes of pitch and tone and voice. Adler confides, reflects, tells a story, aphorizes, undercuts the aphorism, then undercuts that. Ideas, experiences, and emotions are inseparable. I don’t know what she’ll say next. She tantalizes by being simultaneously daring and elusive.
—David Shields, Reality Hunger

Nobody writes better prose than Renata Adler.
—John Leonard, Vanity Fair

A brilliant series of glimpses into the special oddities and new terrors of contemporary life—abrupt, painful, and altogether splendid.
—Donald Barthelme