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Me and Meryl Streep: Frequently Asked Questions

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Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor, a book commissioned by Cahiers du Cinema and written by me, will be published in January by Phaidon. You may have questions. Here are some answers. 

1. So, what’s the deal with this thing? Is it a biography? 

There is a lot of biographical information in it, but it’s more of a critical analysis of Streep’s career, in a fully-illustrated, coffee table-ready package. There are ten chapters, and each is essentially a long piece of film criticism focused on a specific performance in a single production, the period it represented in Streep’s life and career, and its impact on Streep’s own stardom and the wider landscape of opportunity for women in Hollywood.

2. What are the ten films?

The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Death Becomes Her, The Bridges of Madison County, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie and Julia and The Iron Lady

3. What sets your book apart from the hundreds of other Meryl Streep books on the market?

Actually, there are not hundreds of other Meryl Streep books on the market; SimplyStreep, an incredibly detailed and frequently updated fan site, has a summary of the offerings, and if you’re looking for something in-print and in English, the pickings are slim.

That said, as far as I can tell, my book is the first lengthy study of Streep as a feminist artist. I chose these ten films in part because each represents a kind of historical fiction about women, and in the book, I make the case that Streep’s body of work often seems to function as a kind of alternative history of the 20th century from a female perspective. I argue that her choice of roles, her process and the results are frequently actually quite radical, even (or especially) when the projects themselves seem on the surface to be fully mainstream or even conservative in nature. So, there’s that.

4. Okay, you’ve sold me! How can I buy it? 

You can pre-order the book now from Barnes and Noble or Amazon, and it will be shipped in January. Or, even better, you could ask your local independent bookstore to order it. The publisher is Phaidon and the ISBN-13 is: 978-0714866697.

5. I’m a critic/journalist, and/or I have a blog/podcast/radio show, and I would love to get a free copy for review, and/or so I can interview you. What should I do?

That’s great! Email me at karina dot longworth at gmail dot com, with your mailing address and your outlet. I will pass your information along to my publisher, they will send you a review copy, and then you can email me again once you’re ready to talk about it. 

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