Oh, its on.
Jonathan Galassi, the publisher at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, was very much the protégé of Roger Straus, the late co-founder of the house. Straus was a generation younger than John Farrar, my great-grandfather, the pair making up the two-initial name that the company launched under in 1946. Giroux came on in 1964, after a few other surnames spent a short time follow that F and S. Farrar died in 1974, after which Straus became the sole patriarch and myth-maker of the firm (he and Farrar and a fraught relationship, to say the least, and the official company literature counts Straus as the sole founder of the company). Galassi started working at FSG as an editor in the post-Farrar era, in 1985, editing books like The Virgin Suicides before moving up to his current role.
In 1993, three years shy of its 50th anniversary, Straus sold a majority interest in the company to Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing, a German conglomerate. This followed years of resistance to consolidation and dedication to independence—two causes Farrar strongly supported. I can’t remember if it was my grandmother or Galassi who told me this, but supposedly Straus’s justified the sale by saying that he wanted to guarantee the future of the company after his death; Roger Straus, Jr., passed away in 2004.
A year or so later, I started an indie publishing outfit with Jennifer Banash, Impetus Press (RIP). I reached out to Galassi after we got off the ground, and he very kindly became an advisor. In 2007, we had lunch together at the Union Square Café. Sitting at a table in the window, just around the corner from the door, Jonathan pointed out the numerous publishers and editors that streamed through the restaurant during the lunch “hour”. When Danny Meyer’s restaurant opened in 1985, Straus had been one of the first customers, helping to establish it as home to the publishing power lunch.
A lot of the advice Galassi gave Jennifer and I had to do with money and distribution and subsidiary rights—the less romantic elements of book publishing. But there’s one bit of advice Roger Straus’s chosen heir gave to me that came to mind again today while reading Boris Kachka’s New York Times op-ed, “Book Publishing’s Big Gamble.” He told me to never give up our independence.
FSG gets a nod in Kachka’s piece (he’s writing a book about the house, after all), the publisher’s e-newsletter highlighted as a promising development. Ryan Chapman, who developed Work-in-Progress, said he took his inspiration from independent record labels.
Only one employee who worked with John Farrar was left at FSG when I visited the old offices on Union Square in ’07. She started there shortly before he died, when he read most of his manuscripts at home, but he still came into the office on occasion. The employee, whose name I can’t remember, had a copy of the first Farrar, Straus catalog, from 1946, that she was kind enough to give to me. Kachka quotes it in his op-ed: “A new imprint on a book gathers character through the years,” the first sentence of the single-folio catalog reads. That may have been the case just after World War II, but in the era of the Big Five—which may soon be the Big Four or Three or Two or One—no such character can be developed without the independence that even the publisher of the most literary major house seems to lament losing.
Rob Thomas, on the set of The Veronica Mars Movie, when a friend of a friend told him I had replied to her professional inquiry with OMGGGEEEEEE YOU KNOW ROB THOMAS, or so she says. (via rachelfershleiser)
I saw Rob Thomas at LAX once. He was sitting at the bar, and he seemed kind of anxious, like he was waiting for someone to realize he was Rob Thomas. Later, I saw him chatting with a woman who had realized he was Rob Thomas, and his whole demeanor had changed—totally relaxed, comfortable and chatty. It’s like being Rob Thomas is only easy and effortless when your Rob Thomas-ness is being acknowledged.
I wrote two posts that had to do with abandoning livestock today, and these are the images that ran with the stories. So much synchronicity.
The job, the first held by many a Midwesterner, mixes hard manual labor with a summer camp vibe. Month-long romances, colored by exhaustion, are born in neighboring corn rows; pranks are laid; fights break out, some involving nothing more than water, others punches; myths and memories and money are made. I didn’t have a curfew while I was detasseling—what was the point? My friends and I didn’t have the energy to stay out and cause trouble after a full day in the cornfields. But after decades of functioning as a sort of rite of passage into working life throughout the Corn Belt, new developments in biotechnology could soon make detasseling obsolete.
I wrote an essay about detasseling, a shitty job I had one summer that I’m oddly nostalgic for.
The Texas anti-choice protest, in one photo.
Area Man Regrets Medically Impossible Procedure
Sigh. Google Reader.
The Old Reader is failing me thus far and its depressing.