Frankly, Fran

The sharp wit and unremitting acerbicism of Fran Lebowitz has continued to enlighten readers decades after she stopped publishing anything new. Her frankness and sharp turn of phrase is so unique–so utterly unlike any other writer (unless you make the usual comparison to Dorothy Parker)–that it’s impossible to forget about Lebowitz in spite of how un-prolific she is. On today, what marks her sixty-fifth birthday, the celebrated author continues to remain relevant regardless of her years-long battle with writer’s block.

Fran, in her 70s heyday
Fran, in her 70s heyday
After proving high school is for the birds and getting her GED post-expulsion, the New Jersey-born author worked a series of random jobs before talking her way into a position at Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. According to her own account of the story in Martin Scorsese’s Public Speaking, Fran buzzed the door of Warhol’s building and, when asked who it was, said, “Valerie Solanas” (the woman who shot Warhol in 1969). Thus, her snarkiness landed her a writing gig at the publication. By 1978, she had published Metropolitan Life, followed up shortly after by Social Studies in 1981, both a collection of short stories that would combine into The Fran Lebowitz Reader in 1994.
Fran as an Interview cover
Fran as an Interview cover
Although she has not released anything new since 1994 (a children’s book called Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas), an excerpt from a forthcoming novel, called Progress, was published in Vanity Fair in 2004. The novel is expected to be released in 2015. Lebowitz’s other notorious work-in-progress, Exterior Signs of Wealth, is a project she’s been working on for over twenty years about “rich people who want to be artists and artists who want to be rich.”

Lebowitz has proven herself to be a true master at the art of being a writer, by managing to sell the same work over and over again while rarely creating anything new. But, from the sound of it, her golden years may be her most productive and abundant.