My understanding of what it means to be a publisher has been skewed ever since I first heard the word. My mom was reading A Wrinkle in Time to me—I must have been around 8—when she explained that my great-grandfather had published the book. She told me how Madeleine L'Engle had taken the story of Meg Murry, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe to publisher after publisher, only to repeatedly be rejected. After being turned down by 26 or so houses, the book came to my mom’s grandfather, who read it and loved it, but "was afraid of it," L'Engle later said. He did say he would buy the book, [...]
The new Paris Review has a long interview with poet Frederick Seidel by FSG president Jonathan Galassi; a small excerpt is online. (This is a much better match-up than the hideous choice of Katie Roiphe to interview Gay Talese in the last issue!) I love Seidel, despite that I usually reflexively (and properly) dislike many born-rich artists. And, you know, the Harvard set. Among other great moments of the interview, Seidel reveals the contents of a letter from Ezra Pound, regarding the incoming president of Harvard (that would be Nathan Pusey, in 1953, who was then rather liberal but whose liberal views were outpaced, let's say, by the [...]
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Anastas’s 2012 memoir, Too Good to Be True, he writes of how he viewed Farrar, Straus and Giroux when he was an unpublished writer "prone to bouts of romantic longing": "It was not just a publisher in my eyes.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. [...]
This week's poetry in the New Yorker: 1. A "lunch poem" by Jonathan Galassi, the editor-in-chief of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Also Harvard '71!) This is his second for the magazine. It seems to be about a romantic and manly Parisian bed-in with a lover? (Here is some biography: "He and his wife Susan Grace Galassi, a curator at the Frick Collection, live in Brooklyn with their daughters Isabel and Beatrice.") 2. A short poem by Katha Pollitt, Nation columnist and ex-wife of the NY Times magazine's The Ethicist. This is her 25th poem for the magazine. 3. The seventh poem published by the New Yorker [...]
When he's not busy running FSG, Jonathan Galassi is fretting over his translations of Giacomo Leopardi. Upon seeing his proofs, Galassi thought and then wrote: "And suddenly, sometimes embarrassingly, you can see how it could be still further improved: If only you’d thought of that before! That’s one encouraging aspect of the fact that books are going to be less and less 'solid-state' in the digital world." Really? We're doing that now? Yay, no one bother to finish your books ever! We'll just iterate them. It's going to be hell on the book critics but that's their problem. Plus they can iterate their reviews. Fun!