WORDS & FACES by Hiram Haydn


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Words and faces and names, names, names dropping with the thud of a telephone directory as to some extent is justified and -- be it said -- admitted by Mr. Haydn who covers his long career in publishing and acquaintance with publishers, writers, agents, etc. Usually this kind of memoir has been of British provenance (Gollancz, et eminent alia) and written with more dignity and discretion. Haydn (who spent his years teaching, guiding at The American Scholar, and editing at Crown, Bobbs-Merrill, Random House, Atheneum and Harcourt) is often excessive in his enthusiasms whether it's a lowly copy editor or the ""electric"" (howzzat) reviews of Orville Prescott or the ""intensity of his seriousness"" attributed to none other than Irving Wallace. Those inside will recognize the perhaps unbalanced tributes paid to his own authors (Wright Morris, Gladys Schmitt) those outside won't remember too well. His discovery of William Styron was his greatest coup even if he did reject The Deer Park and Lolita (everybody makes these mistakes). For the most part Haydn's benign and boring; except toward his former partners at Atheneum where he goes beyond, if at all possible, the necessary limits of publisher gossip, abuse and infighting. No slouch in his own dedication to Literature, Haydn sees himself as ""the Helper, the Salvager,"" and ""the nurturer of talent"" which he no doubt was before his death in 1973. . . . He concludes, ""Why tell? Why tell at all?"" One wonders -- although there will be no retrospective regrets if one is wrong -- any more than Bennett Cerf entertained after giving Leon Uris the forcible exodus before Uris' success of that name -- one of the better anecdotes here.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1974
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich