Anecdote-packed memoir from the distinguished head of British publishing house Jonathan Cape.
Maschler has worked with an array of preeminent writers, and his memoir is bursting with tales of Salman Rushdie, Joseph Heller, Ian McEwan, Philip Roth—even John Lennon. The author begins by detailing his early life, which included a fortuitous piece of luck—and a heady induction into the publishing world—when he strolled into the New York Times offices and persuaded a member of the editorial staff to allow him, an unknown teenager, to pen an article. (More than 50 years later, he still has the clipping.) Vibrant illustrations from Quentin Blake are interspersed throughout, and these rough pen-and-ink sketches fit in well with the author’s clipped, staccato prose. When he’s not recalling letters from Roald Dahl or a gruff encounter with Kingsley Amis or even the time he dropped LSD with Allen Ginsberg, Maschler muses on various spats, including one with former friend Sebastian Walker, who poached 12 Jonathan Cape authors for his own imprint, Walker Books. Revelations concerning the publisher’s personal life surface only occasionally, although he does hint at times when he felt his position at Cape was under threat and also outlines a period he spent suffering from crippling depression.
Full of tantalizing tidbits on some intriguing figures, though the brevity of his recollections may frustrate readers hungry for more detail.