GULLIVER HOUSE by John Leggett


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Leggett (Ross and Tom, Who Took the Gold Away) has too much dignity to make this novel of publishing-behind-the-scenes smarmy and … clef; and he has too little real fascination with his subject to construct an Arthur Harley-type expos‚. Instead, he writes--as in his earlier books--a story of thwarted WASP responsibility in search of an object to shelter. Lloyd Erskine goes to work for a small, respected, low-energy publisher right after his release from the Navy and World War II. Married to Andrea and soon with a son, he moves on to a more bustling firm, Crowninshield, and quickly rises there. When the son of Crowninshield's chief bolts to start a new firm, Gulliver House, Erskine comes on board as a partner, along with the smooth (and Jewish) Joel Rossbach. Leggett then proceeds to humble Erskine down from these heights: a mistress deserts him, Andrea clears out too, Gulliver House clumsily maneuvers him out of real power when his taste for serious fiction is soon judged to be a financial extravagance. Leggett hands all this over in dull, floury strokes, in dialogue that might have been lifted from a panel discussion: ""I certainly agree that deciding what to publish is the big mystery, and anyone who does it well is some sort of a magician, but I have an idea that the trap for all of us lies right there, in the editorial hubris, the notion that we have not just discretionary but real creative powers."" Unleavened and inert, humorless and rather self-righteous--but of some basic educational interest to those unfamiliar with the realities of commercial publishing.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1979
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin