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Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

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Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

andlt;bandgt;and#8220;Mad Men for the literary world.and#8221; and#8212;Junot Dand#237;azandlt;/bandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Farrar, Straus and Giroux is arguably the most influential publishing house of the modern era. Home to an unrivaled twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and generation-defining authors like T. S. Eliot, Flannery Oand#8217;Connor, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen, itand#8217;s a cultural institution whose importance approaches that of andlt;Iandgt;The New Yorkerandlt;/Iandgt; or andlt;Iandgt;The New York Timesandlt;/Iandgt;. But FSG is no ivory towerand#8212;the owner's wife called the office a and#8220;sexual sewerand#8221;and#8212;and its untold story is as tumultuous and engrossing as many of the great novels it has published.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the pugnacious black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish familyand#8212;with his bottomless supply of ascots, charm, and vulgarity of every stripeand#8212;and his utter opposite, the reticent, closeted editor Robert Giroux, who rose from working-class New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who helped define American culture. Giroux became one of T. S. Eliotand#8217;s best friends, just missed out on andlt;Iandgt;The Catcher in the Ryeandlt;/Iandgt;, and played the placid caretaker to manic-depressive geniuses like Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Jean Stafford, and Jack Kerouac. Straus, the brilliant showman, made Susan Sontag a star, kept Edmund Wilson out of prison, and turned Isaac Bashevis Singer from a Yiddish scribbler into a Nobelistand#8212;even as he spread the gossip on which literary New York thrived.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A prolific lover and an epic fighter, Straus ventured fearlessly, and sometimes recklessly, into battle for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. When a talented editor left for more money and threatened to take all his writers, Roger roared, and#8220;Over my dead bodyand#8221;and#8212;and meant it. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon and Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war that caught writers such as Philip Roth and Joan Didion in the crossfire. He fought off would-be buyers like S. I. Newhouse (and#8220;that dwarfand#8221;) with one hand and rapacious literary agents like Andrew Wylie (and#8220;that shitand#8221;) with the other. Even his own son and presumed successor was no match for a man who had to win at any costand#8212;and who was proven right at almost every turn.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;At the center of the story, always, are the writers themselves. After giving us a fresh perspective on the postwar authors we thought we knew, Kachka pulls back the curtain to expose how elite publishing works today. He gets inside the editorial meetings where writersand#8217; fates are decided; he captures the adrenaline rush of bidding wars for top talent; and he lifts the lid on the high-stakes pursuit of that rarest commodity, public attentionand#8212;including a fly-on-the-wall account of the explosive confrontation between Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Franzen, whose relationship, Franzen tells us, and#8220;was bogus from the start.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Vast but detailed, full of both fresh gossip and keen insight into how the literary world works, andlt;Iandgt;Hothouseandlt;/Iandgt; is the product of five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews by a veteran andlt;Iandgt;New Yorkandlt;/Iandgt; magazine writer. It tells an essential story for the first time, providing a delicious inside perspective on the rich pageant of postwar cultural life and illuminating the vital intellectual center of the American Century.

Review:

"The New York book world, poised between scruffy glamour and crass commercialism, emerges in this lively chronicle of an iconic institution. New York magazine contributing editor Kachka chronicles the midsized independent publishing house whose mission of bringing high culture to the mass market set the tone for postwar American letters. The saga's charismatic ringmaster is Roger Straus, FSG's ebullient, profane part owner and publisher. His tangled relationships with a string of brilliant writers, including Edmund Wilson, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, and Philip Roth, are equal parts paternalistic and exploitative; authors loved FSG's support and sympathy — Straus and his editors championed difficult writers and nurtured blocked, broke, and addicted ones — but the substandard advances, not so much. Threading through Kachka's juicy narrative is an epochal shift in the industry: from the old FSG, with its shabby offices, lewd banter, nonstop adulteries, dysfunctional quasi-familial relations between authors and the publisher, and febrile literary passions, to the new era of bland media conglomerates, for which books are but transitory business partnerships between executives, authors, and celebrity agents. Entertaining, accessible, smart, and thought-provoking, this is a book very much in tune with the lost literary milieu it recreates. Photos. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

“Mad Men for the literary world.” —Junot Díaz

Farrar, Straus and Giroux is arguably the most influential publishing house of the modern era. Home to an unrivaled twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and generation-defining authors like T. S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen, it’s a cultural institution whose importance approaches that of The New Yorker or The New York Times. But FSG is no ivory tower—the owner's wife called the office a “sexual sewer”—and its untold story is as tumultuous and engrossing as many of the great novels it has published.

Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the pugnacious black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish family—with his bottomless supply of ascots, charm, and vulgarity of every stripe—and his utter opposite, the reticent, closeted editor Robert Giroux, who rose from working-class New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who helped define American culture. Giroux became one of T. S. Eliot’s best friends, just missed out on The Catcher in the Rye, and played the placid caretaker to manic-depressive geniuses like Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Jean Stafford, and Jack Kerouac. Straus, the brilliant showman, made Susan Sontag a star, kept Edmund Wilson out of prison, and turned Isaac Bashevis Singer from a Yiddish scribbler into a Nobelist—even as he spread the gossip on which literary New York thrived.

A prolific lover and an epic fighter, Straus ventured fearlessly, and sometimes recklessly, into battle for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. When a talented editor left for more money and threatened to take all his writers, Roger roared, “Over my dead body”—and meant it. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon and Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war that caught writers such as Philip Roth and Joan Didion in the crossfire. He fought off would-be buyers like S. I. Newhouse (“that dwarf”) with one hand and rapacious literary agents like Andrew Wylie (“that shit”) with the other. Even his own son and presumed successor was no match for a man who had to win at any cost—and who was proven right at almost every turn.

At the center of the story, always, are the writers themselves. After giving us a fresh perspective on the postwar authors we thought we knew, Kachka pulls back the curtain to expose how elite publishing works today. He gets inside the editorial meetings where writers’ fates are decided; he captures the adrenaline rush of bidding wars for top talent; and he lifts the lid on the high-stakes pursuit of that rarest commodity, public attention—including a fly-on-the-wall account of the explosive confrontation between Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Franzen, whose relationship, Franzen tells us, “was bogus from the start.”

Vast but detailed, full of both fresh gossip and keen insight into how the literary world works, Hothouse is the product of five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews by a veteran New York magazine writer. It tells an essential story for the first time, providing a delicious inside perspective on the rich pageant of postwar cultural life and illuminating the vital intellectual center of the American Century.

Synopsis:

A rollicking, incredibly juicy account of the book publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux—a cultural institution and arguably the most influential publisher of the postwar era—and the many colorful, iconic authors whose careers it has fostered.

FSG is home to more Nobel Prize-winning writers than any other publishing house in the world, its influence rivaling that of storied American literary institutions like the The New Yorker and The New York Times. Among its roster of generation-defining authors are T. S. Eliot, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, and Jonathan Franzen.

Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish family—with his bottomless reserve of ascots, charm, and vulgarity—and his complete opposite, the reticent editor Robert Giroux, who rose from blue-collar New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who defined and shaped postwar American culture.

Both loved and despised in the literary community, Straus ventured fearlessly, often recklessly, into combat for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon and Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war for the very soul of publishing. Like a modern Daniel in a den of lions, he fought off would-be buyers, covetous literary agents, and even his own son and would-be successor, who was no match for a man who had to win at any cost.

Full of gossip and keen insight, Hothouse is the product of more than five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews, unearthing an essential story for the first time. Bringing to life the tumultuous pageant of postwar cultural life, it illustrates not only the lesson of a great publishing house—that in business as in literature, culture matters above all—but also the vital intellectual hub of the American Century.

About the Author

Boris Kachkaandlt;Bandgt; andlt;/Bandgt;is a contributing editor for andlt;iandgt;New Yorkandlt;/iandgt; magazine, where he has written and edited pieces on literature, publishing, and theater for more than a decade. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781451691894
Author:
Kachka, Boris
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Subject:
Books & Reading
Subject:
World History-General
Subject:
Business-History and Biography
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20130831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 16-pp insert of color photos
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Literary
Business » Communication
Business » General
Business » History and Biographies
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Reference » Books on Books
Reference » Publishing

Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Used Hardcover
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Product details 448 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781451691894 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The New York book world, poised between scruffy glamour and crass commercialism, emerges in this lively chronicle of an iconic institution. New York magazine contributing editor Kachka chronicles the midsized independent publishing house whose mission of bringing high culture to the mass market set the tone for postwar American letters. The saga's charismatic ringmaster is Roger Straus, FSG's ebullient, profane part owner and publisher. His tangled relationships with a string of brilliant writers, including Edmund Wilson, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, and Philip Roth, are equal parts paternalistic and exploitative; authors loved FSG's support and sympathy — Straus and his editors championed difficult writers and nurtured blocked, broke, and addicted ones — but the substandard advances, not so much. Threading through Kachka's juicy narrative is an epochal shift in the industry: from the old FSG, with its shabby offices, lewd banter, nonstop adulteries, dysfunctional quasi-familial relations between authors and the publisher, and febrile literary passions, to the new era of bland media conglomerates, for which books are but transitory business partnerships between executives, authors, and celebrity agents. Entertaining, accessible, smart, and thought-provoking, this is a book very much in tune with the lost literary milieu it recreates. Photos. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , “Mad Men for the literary world.” —Junot Díaz

Farrar, Straus and Giroux is arguably the most influential publishing house of the modern era. Home to an unrivaled twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and generation-defining authors like T. S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen, it’s a cultural institution whose importance approaches that of The New Yorker or The New York Times. But FSG is no ivory tower—the owner's wife called the office a “sexual sewer”—and its untold story is as tumultuous and engrossing as many of the great novels it has published.

Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the pugnacious black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish family—with his bottomless supply of ascots, charm, and vulgarity of every stripe—and his utter opposite, the reticent, closeted editor Robert Giroux, who rose from working-class New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who helped define American culture. Giroux became one of T. S. Eliot’s best friends, just missed out on The Catcher in the Rye, and played the placid caretaker to manic-depressive geniuses like Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Jean Stafford, and Jack Kerouac. Straus, the brilliant showman, made Susan Sontag a star, kept Edmund Wilson out of prison, and turned Isaac Bashevis Singer from a Yiddish scribbler into a Nobelist—even as he spread the gossip on which literary New York thrived.

A prolific lover and an epic fighter, Straus ventured fearlessly, and sometimes recklessly, into battle for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. When a talented editor left for more money and threatened to take all his writers, Roger roared, “Over my dead body”—and meant it. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon and Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war that caught writers such as Philip Roth and Joan Didion in the crossfire. He fought off would-be buyers like S. I. Newhouse (“that dwarf”) with one hand and rapacious literary agents like Andrew Wylie (“that shit”) with the other. Even his own son and presumed successor was no match for a man who had to win at any cost—and who was proven right at almost every turn.

At the center of the story, always, are the writers themselves. After giving us a fresh perspective on the postwar authors we thought we knew, Kachka pulls back the curtain to expose how elite publishing works today. He gets inside the editorial meetings where writers’ fates are decided; he captures the adrenaline rush of bidding wars for top talent; and he lifts the lid on the high-stakes pursuit of that rarest commodity, public attention—including a fly-on-the-wall account of the explosive confrontation between Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Franzen, whose relationship, Franzen tells us, “was bogus from the start.”

Vast but detailed, full of both fresh gossip and keen insight into how the literary world works, Hothouse is the product of five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews by a veteran New York magazine writer. It tells an essential story for the first time, providing a delicious inside perspective on the rich pageant of postwar cultural life and illuminating the vital intellectual center of the American Century.

"Synopsis" by , A rollicking, incredibly juicy account of the book publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux—a cultural institution and arguably the most influential publisher of the postwar era—and the many colorful, iconic authors whose careers it has fostered.

FSG is home to more Nobel Prize-winning writers than any other publishing house in the world, its influence rivaling that of storied American literary institutions like the The New Yorker and The New York Times. Among its roster of generation-defining authors are T. S. Eliot, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, and Jonathan Franzen.

Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish family—with his bottomless reserve of ascots, charm, and vulgarity—and his complete opposite, the reticent editor Robert Giroux, who rose from blue-collar New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who defined and shaped postwar American culture.

Both loved and despised in the literary community, Straus ventured fearlessly, often recklessly, into combat for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon and Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war for the very soul of publishing. Like a modern Daniel in a den of lions, he fought off would-be buyers, covetous literary agents, and even his own son and would-be successor, who was no match for a man who had to win at any cost.

Full of gossip and keen insight, Hothouse is the product of more than five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews, unearthing an essential story for the first time. Bringing to life the tumultuous pageant of postwar cultural life, it illustrates not only the lesson of a great publishing house—that in business as in literature, culture matters above all—but also the vital intellectual hub of the American Century.

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