Synopses & Reviews
In his remarkable new memoir, at once frank, audacious, canny, and revealing, Michael Korda, the author of Charmed Lives and Queenie, does for the world of books what Moss Hart did for the theater in Act One, and succeeds triumphantly in making publishing seem as exciting (and as full of great characters) as the stage.
Here is a memoir that reads like a novel, sweeping the reader into another life on a tide of energy, wit, and a seemingly inexhaustible flow of marvelous anecdotes.
Another Life is not just an adventure--the engaging and often hilarious story of a young man making his career--but the insider's story of how a cottage industry metamorphosed into a big business, with sometimes alarming results for all concerned.
Korda writes with grace, humor, and a shrewd eye, not only about himself and his rise from a lowly (but not humble) assistant editor reading the "slush pile" of manuscripts to a famous editor in chief of a major publishing house, but also about the celebrities and writers with whom he worked over four decades.
Here are portraits--rare, intimate, always keenly observed--of such larger-than-life figures as Ronald Reagan, affable and good-natured but the most reluctant of authors, struggling with his "ghosted" presidential autobiography; Richard Nixon, seen here as a genial, if bizarrely detached, host; superagent Irving Lazar, pursuing his endless deals and dreams of "class"; retired Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, the last of the old-time dons, laboring over his own version of his life in his desert retreat; Joan Crawford, giving Korda her rules for successful living; and countless other greats, near greats, and would-be greats.
Here too are famous writers, sometimes eccentric, sometimes infuriating, sometimes lost souls, captured memorably by someone who was close to them for years: Graham Greene, in pursuit of his FBI file and a Nobel Prize; Tennessee Williams, wrestling unsuccessfully with his demons; Jacqueline Susann, facing and conquering the dreaded "second-novel syndrome" after the stunning success of Valley of the Dolls; Harold Robbins (who had to be guarded under lock and key and made to finish his novels), struggling to keep the IRS at bay from the deck of his yacht; Carlos Castaneda, at his most sorcerously charming, described--at last--in detail, as he really was, by one of the few people who knew him well; not to mention Richard Adams, Will and Ariel Durant, Susan Howatch, S. J. Perelman, Fannie Hurst, Larry McMurtry, and many, many more.
And here as well is a rich cast of major publishing figures, beginning with the marvelously peculiar M. Lincoln Schuster and his partner, Richard L. Simon--father of Carly--and including just about everybody who is or was anybody in the world of book publishing: For Another Life is also a business story, tracing the rise and fall of great names and explaining just what happened when "Publishers' Row" collided with Wall Street, transforming modest (if world-famous) businesses into multibillion-dollar book conglomerates.
Parts of this book that have appeared in The New Yorker over the years have brought Korda great acclaim--the chapter about Jacqueline Susann has been made into a major motion picture. Here at last, entertaining and provocative and always hugely readable, is the whole story--a book as engaging and full of life as Korda's highly acclaimed memoir of his family, Charmed Lives, about which Irwin Shaw wrote: "I don't know when I have enjoyed a book more."
Shrewd, funny, and alarmingly frank, these memories of 40 years in book publishing contain brilliant portraits of famous writers, from Harold Robbins to Tennessee Williams, as well as celebrities, stars, and hitherto sacred publishing figures.
From world leaders to Mafia dons, from Hollywood stars to the literary world's most eccentric writers, the notable and notorious alike have entrusted their life's work to Simon & Schuster's preeminent editor, Michael Korda. In this masterful memoir, Korda reveals the unforgettable cast of characters and outrageous anecdotes behind four decades of blockbuster publishing, bringing us face-to-face with dozens of larger-than-life figures: Richard Nixon, who maintained his "presidential" persona long after his public life was over; Joan Crawford, whose autobiography reflected a life she would have liked to have lived but did not; Joseph Bonanno, the retired Mafia don who'd do anything to keep from being killed by the reviewers.
And in a revelatory account that reads as compulsively as fiction, Another Life paints a vivid picture of publishing's glitterati, including Jacqueline Susann, who liberated women's fiction--and terrorized a publishing house, and Tennessee Williams, who nourished his genius on four-course vodka lunches. A veritable Who's Who of stage, screen, and letters, Another Life is the deft interweaving of publishing at it most fascinating--and storytelling at its finest.
About the Author
Michael Korda is the editor in chief of Simon & Schuster as well as the author of Charmed Lives, several bestselling novels, the number one bestseller Power!, and Man to Man. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Dutchess County, New York.