Ebershoff, David 1969-
EBERSHOFF, David 1969-
Notable Book Award, New York Times, Rosenthal Foundation Award, American Academy of Arts, and Lambda Literary Award, all for The Danish Girl: A Novel; Best Books of 2001 designation, Los Angeles Times, for The Rose City: Stories.
The Danish Girl: A Novel, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.
The Rose City: Stories, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.
Pasadena: A Novel, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
David Ebershoff is publishing director of Modern Library, one of Random House's most prestigious imprints. Modern Library has operated since 1917 and publishes new books and new editions of classics. Ebershoff's work at Modern Library also helps in his writing career. In a BookPage interview with Alden Mudge, Ebershoff reported, "I'm reading books for this list that are really helpful to me as a writer. In that way, my work feeds my writing. But there's little other overlap. I don't learn any publishing tricks that really matter in terms of writing a novel."
Ebershoff's first novel, The Danish Girl: A Novel, is based on a true story. It begins in Copenhagen in 1925. Greta Waud, an American portrait painter, is married to Einar Wegener, a Danish landscape painter. One day Greta's model does not show up, and she begs her husband to stand in for the model. Einar obliges and puts on the model's dress and stockings. During the sitting Greta calls Einar the woman's name Lili. Einar finds that he enjoys wearing the dress and stockings and soon begins to dress like a woman on a regular basis. Greta supports her husband's cross-dressing and his life as Lili. Einar realizes he is happiest as Lili and dreams of having a sex change. Out of love for her husband, Greta finds the only doctor who is willing to attempt the surgery. Interview contributor Richard Pandiscio observed that "The novel is a bold story of love and longing written as movingly and compassionately as any writer could." Jonathan Shipley in Book Reporter praised the novel's "lush prose and emotional insight," adding that The Danish Girl "is sure to create a buzz in the literary world."
Indeed, the novel attracted significant attention. New York Times Book Review contributor John Burnham Schwartz hailed it as an "arresting first novel" that "conjures a memorable look inside the mysterious black box of human sexuality." He further praised it as "fascinating and humane," and noted that Ebershoff proves himself "a talented writer …with a finely developed sense of the power of descriptive details to reveal behavior and mood." In New Statesman, Martyn Bedford described the novel as an "affecting and graceful debut," adding that "What Ebershoff exudes, above all, is the sense of a writer who is at one with his writing." A Publishers Weekly contributor declared the book a triumph with a "poignant and visionary" conclusion.
Ebershoff's The Rose City: Stories is a collection of seven short stories about a gay man and the challenges he faces in his life. A writer for Publishers Weekly described the collection as a "bouquet of vivid, hard-edged characters plagued by all-too-human frailties." Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide contributor Karl Woelz hailed The Rose City as "one of the most beautifully written books of fiction in recent years."
Pasadena: A Novel, Ebershoff's second novel, has been widely regarded as a West-Coast version of Wuthering Heights. Set in the early twentieth century, the novel recounts the life and loves of Linda Stamp, who was born to poor parents in 1903 near San Diego. When her father returns from World War I he brings home with him a handsome young man named Bruder. Linda falls in love with Bruder, but he soon leaves to take a job at an orange ranch in Pasadena owned by the wealthy Willis Poore. Four years later Linda travels to Pasadena to be with Bruder. Willis is rich and that attracts Linda to him. Eventually she marries him, which she soon realizes was a mistake because she is still in love with Bruder. Several reviewers found weaknesses in the novel's plot but admired its majestic setting. As Irina Reyn remarked in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "The historical backdrop is the [book's] star." Los Angeles Times writer Bettijane Levine described Pasadena as "a book of passions, people and places in flux, of the untamed landscape that defined those who lived in it—a force so dominant that it becomes one of the most important characters in the book."
Noting that "Ebershoff seems more in love with the landscape than with the people in it," Boston Globe reviewer Ann Harleman found that "the characters in Pasadena never quite emerge." Yet Harleman added that the book "is a novel to get lost in, caught up in the melodrama of saving a frosted orchard or a chilly heart." Finding Pasadena weakened by a surplus of period detail and by the "somewhat generic feel" of Ebershoff's characters, Martha Bayles in the New York Times nevertheless appreciated the novel as a sweeping story of grand themes. Los Angeles Magazine contributor Robert Ito made a similar point, describing the book as "grand reading." Booklist contributor Elsa Gaztambide concluded that "This is a rich blend of California history in a well-mastered plot that maintains an enduring element of surprise."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, March 14, 2000, Robert Plunket, review of The Danish Girl: A Novel, p. 64; July 3, 2001, Drew Limsky, review of The Rose City: Stories, p. 65.
Book, May, 2001, Chris Borris, review of The Rose City, p. 77.
Booklist, December 15, 1999, Neal Wyatt, review of The Danish Girl, p. 756; July, 2002, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Pasadena: A Novel, p. 1820.
Boston Globe, October 27, 2002, Ann Harleman, "The Conjunction of Fishing and Fate."
Entertainment Weekly, August 2, 2002, Troy Patterson, review of Pasadena, p. 68.
Esquire, March, 2000, Sven Birkerts, "Sexual Perversity in Copenhagen," p. 108.
Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, summer, 2000, Felice Picano, "The Art of Gender Bending," p. 60; November-December, 2001, Karl Woelz, "Tales of the Unnoticed," p. 40.
Interview, December, 1999, Richard Pandiscio, review of The Danish Girl, p. 72.
Lambda Book Report, March, 2000, Daniel Blue, "Changing Places," p. 15; July, 2001, Felice Picano, "Surviving the Disasters of Youth," p. 13.
Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Lisa Rohrbaugh, review of The Rose City, p. 237.
Los Angeles Magazine, August, 2002, Robert Ito, "Guts and Glory," p. 104.
Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2002, Bettijane Levine, "Pasadena on His Mind," p. E1.
New Statesman, April 3, 2000, Martyn Bedford, review of The Danish Girl, p. 57.
New York Times, July 21, 2002, Martha Bayles, "East of Eden," p. 22.
People, August 12, 2002, Allison Lynn, review of Pasadena, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, November 22, 1999, review of The Danish Girl, p. 40; July 17, 2000, John F. Baker, "The Gender-bending Doctor," p. 78; April 16, 2001, review of The Rose City, p. 45.
Authorlink,http://www.authorlink.com/ (January 22, 2003), "An Exclusive Authorlink Interview with David Ebershoff, Publishing Director, Modern Library, Random House."
Blurb,http://www.blurb.com.au/ (January 22, 2003), Melissa Timmins, review of The Rose City: Stories.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (January 22, 2003), Alden Mudge, "Insider Information: Publishing Exec Recreates the Lost World of California."
Book Reporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 22, 2003), Jonathan Shipley, review of The Danish Girl.
David Ebershoff Home Page,http:/www.ebershoff.com (November 2003).
Detroit Metro Times online,http://www.metrotimes.com/ (January 22, 2003), Dennis Shea, review of The Danish Girl.
LA Weekly online,http://www.laweekly.com/ (January 22, 2003), Michelle Huneven, "David Ebershoff's Pasadena. "
MPR Books,http://www.mpr.org/ (January 22, 2003), review of Pasadena.
New York Times on the Web,http://www.nytimes.com/ (January 20, 2003), John Burnham Schwartz, review of The Danish Girl; Charles Wilson, review of The Rose City.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,http://www.post-gazette.com/ (January 22, 2003), Irina Reyn, " Pasadena by David Ebershoff."
Queer Theory,http://www.queertheory.com/ (January 22, 2003), Sheila Bright, review of The Danish Girl.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (January 22, 2003), Anson Lang, "David Ebershoff."