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Memoirs of a Muse by Lara Vapnyar
Memoirs of a Muse begins with Tanya Rumer as a girl in Moscow. She's an unexceptional girl, but a high school teacher tells her that some day she'll become "the companion to a great man." She loved to read Dostoyevsky and knew his muse, Polina Suslova, was the inspiration for several female characters in his novels. Tanya moves to New York when she was 21 and decides to pattern herself after Polina. Although she barely speaks English, she meets novelist Mark Schneider in a bookstore, and she quickly moves in with him. She wants to be his muse, but he spends more time at either his gym, his therapist, or to parties thrown among the literary crowd. He pays little attention to her or to his writing. She learns to read English by reading romance novels, and then moves on to reading Mark's novels. What she finds there suggests that perhaps muse isn't the best career choice. Lara Vapnyar's first novel has received mostly positive reviews with the San Francisco Chronicle saying, "While Tanya does not become a writer, this is surely the book she would have loved as much as I did, observant and scathing, but also moving and true."