three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
user_rating: 
0

A-ApprenticeFlowerAspiring poet Annabelle Goldsmith, a college junior in '80s New York, lands a job assisting her literary idol, the flower poet Z. Z. is famous for her prolific outpouring of sexually floral verse, and soon she has Annabelle criss-crossing the city to research wisteria and lobelia. The willing apprentice must also buy silk boxers for Z.'s lover, track down a gold-nibbed pen, write a class syllabus, and keep clear of the celebrity poet's "psychic space." Meanwhile, Annabelle launches into an affair with a Joyce-obsessed grad student. Will she ever find time for her own writing? Is Z. a fraud? And, by the way, what is poetry anyway?
Random House. 242 pages. $23.95.

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"From the novel's first line to its delicious conclusion, Weinstein delivers a wide-eyed innocent's view of a dirty, complicated world that is, rarely, about art. " Mindi Dickstein

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Weinstein captures the great poet's majestic self-regard. ... And [she] is equally adept at bringing life to her cast of extras..." Lisa Zeidner

Miami Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As for the nature of poetry, Weinstein has an enormous amount of fun with that concept, too, as she adroitly lampoons the petty peculiarities of academia and its hideously inflated literary egos..." Connie Ogle

Detroit Free Press 3.5 of 5 Stars
"It's been nearly 20 years since I had to sit through student poets fake-admiring one another, but Weinstein's dead aim brought it all back. ... Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z. is a wickedly good start." Marta Salij

NY Times 3 of 5 Stars
" [It's] a credit to this author and her amusing debut novel that the poetic proclivities described here have an authentic ring." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

Z. is a must-read for anyone who has logged time in a poetry workshop. This published poet's first novel, an All About Eve "with literary grants" (Detroit Free Press), is "witty and generous" (The New York Times) and a "keenly observed, droll satire" (Miami Herald). While some critics found the constant word play and wit cloying and cited a few flat characters, most reviewers praised Weinstein's energetic send-up of the literary art scene. Yes, Annabelle is unbelievably clueless, and her life isn't as distinct as the terrible Z.'s, but this novel is sure-footed and insightful where The Devil Wears Prada, a novel with a similar plot, falters. "Peppered with poetry, some deliberately and hilariously awful, some quite good, Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z. is an auspicious debut" (The St. Petersburg Times).