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Janet Malcolm’s uncertainty principle

By Daniel Cohen  


“I had a kind of bad feeling afterward. I felt inadequate,” says one of Janet Malcolm’s subjects, the artist David Salle, after an interview with her. He isn’t the only one. Few people come out of a Janet Malcolm article well—including, at times, Malcolm herself. Her work is filled with bad feeling: between writers, artists, rivals and criminals. It is a battleground of egos, weirdos and visionaries, which Malcolm surveys with unstinting clarity.

Malcolm has spent her professional career at the New Yorker, where…

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