No blindingly brilliant insights into the seismic changes that have transformed publishing but an agreeable memoir that...

PUBLISHING

A WRITER'S MEMOIR

The evolving nature of the book business over the past half-century, as experienced in one up-and-down career.

When Harper & Row published Godwin’s (Flora, 2013, etc.) first novel in 1970, publishing houses were still relatively genteel places. The author had a personal relationship with her editor there and a long-term one with Knopf’s Bob Gottlieb, who published her next four books but lost her to Viking when he didn’t offer enough money for A Mother and Two Daughters, which proved to be her breakout best-sellerGodwin has nothing against commerce, which makes her a measured observer of the “next era of publishing,” which began for her when she lunched with Penguin CEO Peter Mayer four days after he fired the president of Penguin subsidiary Viking. In the increasingly corporate publishing world, she writes, “I was one of the many authors to be caught in the tumult while it thrashed about in search of a new business model.” Despite A Southern Family’s success for Morrow-Avon, she found “the new publishing ethos was firmly in place” when she submitted Father Melancholy’s Daughter in 1990. The text and title were both judged too long; Carolyn Reidy (Avon’s president) said it wouldn’t earn out its advance. Reidy was right, and when The Good Husband also failed to earn out for Random House, Godwin returned part of the advance to pay for ads and hired her own publicist for Evensong and several subsequent books. And so it has gone for writers in the 21st century, when, fellow novelist Caroline Leavitt told Godwin, “an author has to brand herself.” The author is more bemused than outraged by these developments; her engaging memoir, similarly, is interesting primarily for its mildly gossipy anecdotes about various publishing executives and glimpses of stories begun and abandoned or morphing into other novels.

No blindingly brilliant insights into the seismic changes that have transformed publishing but an agreeable memoir that captures its pleasures and pitfalls.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1620408247

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more