In Benjamin Anastas’s 2012 memoir, Too Good to Be True, he writes of how he viewed Farrar, Straus and Giroux when he was an unpublished writer "prone to bouts of romantic longing": "It was not just a publisher in my eyes. It was more like the Promised Land." A poet who had caught a glimpse of the office had once told him on a fire escape in Queens, "National Book Awards? They paper the fucking place. It’s like a shrine in there. You whisper."
A certain mystique, whether you buy it or not, surrounds FSG, publisher of 25 Nobel laureates since its first slate of titles appeared in 1946. [...]
When Saul Bellow got an invitation to rejoin the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1958, he and his second wife, Sondra, were ready for a change of scene from their Hudson Valley house (“could use TLC”), and they needed the income too. Although Bellow had already won his first National Book Award with The Adventures of Augie March, he followed in a long line of writers who discovered that you could be famous without having money.
Nevertheless, Bellow put forward one condition before taking the job in Minneapolis. The university had to find a position for his closest friend, Jack Ludwig, a writer and a colleague from [...]
A column that resurrects the highbrow gossip of yore.
In the "Seinfeld" episode "The Jacket," which aired in 1991, Elaine recruits Jerry and George to join her for a drink and dinner with her father, Alton Benes. He’s a cranky old writer, distinguished but well past his prime, and he’s impossible enough that Elaine says she needs a "buffer" to spend an evening with him. (This comment might mark the moment when we all started using the word "buffer" in this particular way. "Re-gifting," "double-dipping," "low-talker"—in the lingo of the educated urbanite, all roads lead to “Seinfeld.”) Elaine ends up being late, and Jerry and George face some [...]
The bad boys who gave much of 20th century American literature its “muscular, glamorous aura,” as one of their daughters, Alexandra Styron, puts it, are beginning to fade from view. So it's worth sitting up to take note of the fact that the Brooklyn lair of the one you might call the lion king, Norman Mailer, is up for sale. Following the death of his widow, Norris Church Mailer, the nine Mailer children are listing the top-floor apartment at 142 Columbia Heights for $2.5 million. The broker, Dolores Grant of Corcoran, tells the Times that the place does not lend itself to easy comparisons, and [...]