Category Archives: Books

American Writers Select Their Favorite Philip Roth Works

Philip Roth pic
Philip Roth

A respected presence in the Southern California television literary representation sphere, Ryan Ly serves as the principal of Curate Entertainment and focuses on programs that combine popularity with character development. An avid reader, Ryan Ly has particular admiration for literary legend Philip Roth, who had a career spanning more than half a century.

Following Roth’s passing in early 2018, The New York Times reached out to numerous authors to pick their personal favorite works by Roth. The answers were as varied as the books themselves, with Joyce Carol Oates choosing his “tender, yet unyielding” memoir Patrimony and noting that as Roth’s career progressed he became a “performance-artist in prose” who excelled in creating voices to whom readers felt attached.

Michiko Kakutani selected American Pastoral, which she described as a work in which Roth left his usual “mirror games” behind and attempted to define the arc of U.S. history between World War II and the Vietnam War. Through this endeavor, he was able to create an expansive landscape that explored the contemporary male psyche while revealing “historical discontinuities” that impact the present.

Stephen King also selected American Pastoral as his favorite and lauded its unforgettable characters and “muscular storytelling,” which paired a limited scope with epic ambition.


Penn Libraries Acquire Benjamin Franklin’s Earliest Printed Piece


Penn Libraries pic
Penn Libraries

An established television literary agent who leads Curate Entertainment, Ryan Ly has represented acclaimed series such as Better Call Saul and Good Girls Revolt. An alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in English and film studies, he funded the Ryan Ly and Family Endowed Collection Fund in support of the school’s library system.

The Penn Libraries were in the news in 2017 with the acquisition of the only known copy of Benjamin Franklin’s first printed work, The Elegy on the Death of Aquila Rose. Franklin printed the broadside in 1723 at the age of 17 after breaking the law by terminating his Boston indenture and moving to Philadelphia to pursue a potential job opening with a Philadelphia printer.

Benjamin Franklin did secure a small job in printing an elegy for an associate who had passed away. Exceeding expectations, he crafted a broadside that included a unique skull-and-crossbones motif running along the top. The Washington Post described this as innovative for its time in that it introduced New England “print culture” to the world of Pennsylvania printing. An early milestone in Franklin’s life, the broadsheet merited inclusion in his autobiography, penned 60 years later.

New Writers and the Agents They Need


Ryan Ly
Ryan Ly

A successful leader in the entertainment industry, Ryan Ly serves as the principal of Curate Entertainment in Los Angeles. Prior to this position, Ryan Ly spent more than a decade at Creative Artists Agency where he most recently served as an agent and the television literary department head.

Whether you’re a screenwriter, novelist, or television writer, you need a good literary agent. Beginners, however, are unlikely to get an agent from a top company.

The reason is that an agent is unlikely to make much money from working with new writers. A new writer is lucky to make $100,000 in the first year. This means the writer’s agent will get $10,000 to $15,000 in commission, depending on the agent’s rate.

For the amount of time an agent must spend to promote a new writer, this amount of money is usually not enough. An agent can earn $200,000 a year by representing only one top-level writer.

Although new writers may be unable to get top agents, some lower-level agents may be extremely helpful. Though these agents may also be new to the entertainment industry, many are willing to work hard and build good reputations that will lead to success in the future.

Philip Roth’s Extended Process of Starting a New Novel

Philip Roth pic
Philip Roth

A respected presence in the Los Angeles entertainment industry, Ryan Ly guided Creative Artists Agency LLC’s Television Literary Department and now serves as the principal of Curate Entertainment. Passionate about literature, Ryan Ly regards the late American master Philip Roth as his favorite author.

In 1984, Roth was interviewed by The Paris Review as part of its series The Art of Fiction and spoke in depth about his mindset as an author. He described starting a new book as unpleasant, as he was always “uncertain about the character and the predicament” on which he had to pin the narrative. Each new novel began as an “unconscious parody” of the last as he wrote in search of a magnet to organize thought.

In many cases, Roth had to write more than 100 pages before he found a paragraph that was alive and original enough to be the genesis of the new work. Perusing half a year of work, he would be lucky to find a single page of material that set a unique tone and was worthy of being the start of a novel.

This torturous process was followed by “months of freewheeling play” that unfortunately came to an end with crises that left Roth turning against his own material and hating each project. This was not unintentional, as he began books “looking for trouble,” and when he found that moment of crisis and resistance, he was approaching the home stretch.

Philip Roth Interviewed on Writing before His Passing


Philip Roth pic
Philip Roth

Based in Southern California, Ryan Ly guides Curate Entertainment and has extensive experience with television series as a literary agent. Featured by Hollywood Reporter on its 2015 list of next-generation entertainment agents, Ryan Ly described the person he would most like to work with, “my favorite author, and literary hero, Philip Roth.”

Interviewed by the New York Times in early 2018 shortly before his passing, Philip Roth spoke of a life in letters that extended from the 1950s through to his 2012 announcement that he would be retiring from writing. Speaking of this decision, Roth noted that it was informed by a decrease in the “mental vitality,” “verbal energy,” and “physical fitness” required to produce anything as complexly structured as a novel. As he put it, “every talent has its terms – its nature, its scope, its force.”

Roth also revisited the 1960 essay “Writing American Fiction,” which presented the concept that the sheer insanity of the US reality nearly “outstrips the writer’s imagination.” Referencing a political and social landscape that has shifted dramatically in a few short years, the author noted, “How naive I was in 1960 to think that I was an American living in preposterous times!”