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THE BESTSELLER by Olivia Goldsmith

THE BESTSELLER

By Olivia Goldsmith

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-017822-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

 A master of high-concept fiction (Fashionably Late, 1994, etc.) returns with a likely bestseller about writing a bestseller-- a meaty send-up of publishing told with intelligence, wit, and shameless enthusiasm. Goldsmith claims Rona Jaffe territory with the cross-cut stories of five writers whose novels appear on the fall list of Davis & Dash, a floundering Manhattan publishing house. Susan Baker Edmonds, 63, once a legal secretary in Cincinnati, has been a bestselling romance writer for decades. In an author tour from hell (42 cities in six weeks), she battles to boost her circulation. The Cinderella figure is Camilla Clapfish, 29, a poor-but-virtuous British tour guide who fights loneliness by writing a gentle book about middle-aged women on a bus trip through Italy. In upstate New York, meanwhile, Judith and Daniel Gross collaborate on a commercial venture about a mother who kills her children. Judith will write, Daniel will edit and sell. But Daniel gets greedy and claims sole authorship. The lone male author is Gerald Ochs Davis, Jr. (monogram GOD), the Michael Korda-esque publisher of Davis & Dash who supports three wives and a mistress with his bestsellers. Finally, there's Bloomington, Indiana, librarian Opal O'Neal, in town to sell the 1,114-page manuscript written by her daughter Terry, who, after her 27th rejection letter, hanged herself. Along with a ton of old gossip and dropped names (including ``the pricks at Kirkus''), Goldsmith melds her tale with a user's guide to publishing (``Now was not the time to think about Alf and his disloyalty, her daughter's wasted life. . . . Now only remember that half of all mass market paperbacks sold were romances--almost a billion dollars in annual sales''). Despite some lapses in dramatic tension, a bright and entertaining education in bookmaking where the good get bestsellers and the bad never eat in the Grill Room again. ($175,000 ad/promo; film rights to Paramount; author tour; radio satellite tour)