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Posts Tagged ‘editor’

On Acknowledgements

July 6, 2011 | by

Anyone who wants to study writers’ idiosyncrasies need look no further than their acknowledgments. One contemporary author thanks her therapist, another his probation officer, a third someone he calls the “Infamous Frankie G.” In the backs of books I’ve found shout-outs to the Ship Manager of HM Frigate Unicorn; a book on Satanism; and an ice hotel. But alongside the quirky is also the heartfelt. I’ve encountered declarations of love—“my children, my jewels”; “without you, I’d be sunk”; “not only the most supportive parents a writer could ask for but the most loving, kind, and inspiring people I know.” One set of thank-yous closes with the code IALYAAT, which I hope means, “I Always Love You At All Times.”

Acknowledgments also offer an all-too-rare view of the writer as actual human being. We often think we’re seeing the author’s real self when we read her fiction, but as any author who’s ever been asked what happened after she fled her family of international superspies and threw in her lot with a group of itinerant circus performers knows only too well, this is a delusion. The acknowledgments at the back of a novel are tantalizing because they’re often the only true thing amid a pack of lies. And at the end of a really great book, how wonderful to recognize that it was written not by a monolith or a beam of white light or the manifestation of the goddess Athena, but by a living, breathing person who remembered to thank her agent.

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A Week in Culture: Radhika Jones, Part 2

September 2, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Jones' culture diary. Click here to read part 1.


Morning I put in some book requests, per last night's TLS: Tom McCarthy's new book C, which is out September 7, and his first novel, Remainder, which I meant to read after the great piece Zadie Smith wrote in the New York Review of Books a couple of years ago, "Two Paths for the Novel," about McCarthy and Joseph O'Neill. Meetings and a quick edit eat up much of the morning.

Lunch with a favorite literary agent—one of those agents who turns out to represent all the writers you're hearing great things about. We fill each other in on what we've been reading. I make a mental note to pack Rosecrans Baldwin's You Lost Me There in the vacation bag.

Afternoon Gilbert sends me a 5 P.M. pick-me-up, in the form of the YouTube video for Cee Lo's hilarious single "F--k You." I love the typography! Thanks, Gilbert. I start working on my book review, which is to say, I write a sentence that may or may not be the lede.

Trailer break! The Social Network. I am bizarrely excited to see this movie1, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and his hoodie. And now onward to the trailer for the fake Twitter movie, which looks even more awesome.

In the NYT, I read a piece on the Shakespeare Quarterly opening up its traditional peer review system to open review online. As a former (recovering?) academic, I like this idea.

Remainder arrives. I check out the Literary Saloon, which leads me to New York's twenty most anticipated books of the season, and to a piece about Barnes and Noble, also in New York, by Andrew Rice. Paris Review alert! One of NY Mag's most anticipated fiction books is Danielle Evans' Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. We published Danielle's first short story, "Virgins" (issue 182), which went on to be selected for Best American Short Stories. And Andrew Rice had a great piece of nonfiction, "The Book of Wilson," from his travels in Uganda, in issue 177.

I also read "Dear Prudence" on Slate. This is the only advice column I ever read. I'm not exactly sure why—I'm not sure why I read it, and I'm not sure why it's the only one2 I read. And I don't have time to puzzle it out, so it'll be one of the many things in life I just chalk up to mystery appeal.

Evening Bhangra class. A few years ago (actually, about six years ago, yikes), my friend Sailaja and I started taking bhangra classes. We had no dance background, and I have the flexibility of a No. 2 pencil. But our teacher, Ambika3, is brilliant, and after a year or so we had become, as Sailaja put it, not great bhangra dancers but passable bhangra students. Which we thought was pretty impressive!

Home and slightly wired from exercise, so Max and I pop in the third episode of Foyle's War. Bedtime (re)reading: an essay on pain from Atul Gawande4's book Complications. Read More »


  1. I wonder if Harvard will start showing it during first-year orientation instead of Love Story.
  2. Although my all-time favorite Slate column is from the nineties—the Shopping Avenger. He avenged consumer wrongs, until he got caught in a U-Haul spiral from which he never emerged, which anyone who has ever rented from U-Haul can understand. O Shopping Avenger. I miss you, and I try to make you proud.
  3. Last year Ambika took off for Nigeria to make films, but I knew that if I waited patiently and went on an exercise strike, she'd come back. And she has. And tonight is our first class.
  4. Have been on a Gawande rereading binge since his wonderful end-of-life care piece in The New Yorker a few weeks back.


A Week in Culture: Radhika Jones, Editor

September 1, 2010 | by


MORNING Tea1 and the NYT Editor's Choice on the iPad. Morning commute: F train, relatively uncrowded because it's the end of August. Reading survey reveals it's a periodical-dominated morning: the Times, the WSJ, the Metro, the Post, and two people facing off with The New Yorker. I pull out my advanced reader's copy of Skippy Dies, which I am in the middle of, and which is so absorbing2 that I need to be careful not to miss my stop.

Second cup of tea steeping in office kitchen. Delightful news via memo left under my door: from now on, the motion-sensor light in my office will only come on if I push it. I hate the fluorescent light, but until now have been powerless to disengage it. Now I will just never turn it on!

Wake up computer and look at to see what my colleagues have been up to overnight. Also look at the NYTimes Web site, and the Guardian, and Talking Points Memo. And a few book blogs, an old Paris Review habit I've reignited in these slightly news-slow summer months—which is how I come across the sad story of the death of VQR's managing editor.

On deck for this morning: signing off on finished magazine pages; ideas meeting; edits for next week. Also opening all the mail that has piled up in the last few weeks. I should open my mail every day. Then it would not pile up. I know that, but sometimes I rebel3, and this time it has gotten so bad that random colleagues have begun stopping by my office and offering to help me open it. I am the office Collyer Brother.

Morning meeting over. Half an hour until next meeting. Office gloriously unfluorescent. Work takes on low-lit, romantic flavor.

E-mail from my brother wondering which Scrabble app he should download so we can play together. I want to play with him, but he lives in Andover, Mass., so if we are to play, I will have to join Facebook4.

Open InCopy. I love InCopy. It lets me work in layout, and secretly I've always wanted to be a graphic designer. This reminds me that I never saw that documentary Helvetica, all about the font. Turn on iPad and add Helvetica to Netflix queue. It's available for instant viewing! Maybe I will watch it this weekend.

Meetings meetings meetings. Lunch!

AFTERNOON Back at my desk after Italian food and a lovely chat with an entertainment publicist who fills me in on a few fall movies. Caitlin Roper (of Paris Review fame) alerts me to a tweet from Bill Burton saying the President just bought a copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I'm going to go ahead and assume that's because we put Franzen on the cover of Time. President Obama, if you need any more book recommendations, feel free to call me directly. I think you'd really like David Mitchell.

Heroically refrain from reading Skippy Dies during multicolor wheel spin while waiting for InCopy file to open.

Culturally with-it colleague Gilbert Cruz drops by, ostensibly with a work question but actually to recommend I watch the Free Willy horror movie recut on YouTube. It's fantastic. Then we watch The Shining recut as romantic comedy. Then, because I am a Harry Potter fan, I must read "Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Gitmo" on, about the books on offer for Guantanamo detainees.

Call neighborhood bookstore, BookCourt on Court Street, to see about the first Paul Murray book. They don't have it, alas. Meanwhile, twilight is coming on, and it's kind of dark in here. May need to buy an office lamp.

LATER Writing headlines is hard.

LATER STILL I'm done for the day. Skippy and I are reunited!

EVENING Friday nights were made for catching up on Top Chef. Life before DVR—I've blocked it from my memory. Read More »


  1. P.G. Tips, half teaspoon sugar, half teaspoon honey, splash of milk.
  2. It's Paul Murray's second novel, out August 31 in the U.S., and I am going to review it for Time.
  3. Against myself? The post office? All the publishers who put out books and mail them to me?
  4. I didn't join at the beginning, and then I missed the second through eighth waves of enthusiasm and proselytizing. I figured I would just continue blithely through life, Facebook-free, forgetting people's birthdays. But now… Scrabble. Will it be my downfall? This is one of those luxurious dilemmas we face in the developed world.


A Week in Culture: Caitlin Roper, Editor

July 14, 2010 | by


9:20 A.M. Owen Gray album Forward on the Scene (1975) in my headphones on the way to work. This album is so good, it lightens my heart. I remember my favorite Gray song, his version of “Give Me Little Sign.” I put it on. Before I realize it, I start smiling at strangers. Q train over the Manhattan Bridge, you’re beautiful!

10:00 A.M. I’ve been reading an incredible novel that we have on submission. I don’t mean to be a tease, but I can’t give any revealing information away. The novel is set in Alaska and it’s so damn good I want everyone I know to read it. A Culture Diary blind item should probably be juicier than this. I apologize.

11:30 A.M. My friend Aram Goudsouzian’s new book King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution arrives. I actually bought it on Amazon. Aram teaches history at the University of Memphis. His last book was about Sidney Poitier. This man impresses me.

5:15 P.M. This article on “forest-bathing” in the Times makes me happy. “The scientists found that being among plants produced 'lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,' among other things.” But then I look out the office window and feel sad. I love each of the many plants in my apartment, but I need a forest bath.

6:40 P.M. After a conversation about a book idea, my friend Dave recommends I read Janet Malcolm’s “Iphigenia in Forest Hills” in The New Yorker. How did I miss it? It was published at least six weeks ago, the issue is sitting in one of many stacks of reading material that accumulate in my apartment, layer after layer, like dust (except that I long to read them, not sweep them up). I start the piece1 online.

12:00 A.M. I have to read so much for work that I tend to consume a lot of visual and audio culture when I have free time. I often look at photography online. The Big Picture’s photo essays are often incredible and I love the visual narratives on the Lens Blog but I also check out Burn Magazine and Multimedia Muse when I want my web browser to transform into a window that looks out at a new view.

1:30 A.M. My friend Max sent me this beautiful Flickr set of Edward Gorey’s book covers. I have to look at each and every design. They blow my mind. The cover for Nineteenth Century German Tales features a huge spider on fire. I love it. I think I first fell in love with Gorey’s work2 as a kid, after I saw his enchanting title sequence3 for PBS’s Mystery!

2:15 A.M. I wonder if my late-night habits are stranger than most people’s. I often spend the hours online looking at images while I listen to records. Right now I am listening to an album I love, The Pointer Sister’s Energy (1978). These ladies have it all: beauty, strength, soul, and talent. They started out singing at the Church Of God in West Oakland as kids. I’m from Berkeley; is it an East Bay connection I have to the Pointers? I’m not sure. Their careers took off before I was born. My first interaction with their music was probably Pinball Number Count on Sesame Street4.

I have already spent an hour on threading through all kinds of images, now I’m looking at I love these sites. I save my favorites in folders like: “Albinos,” “Michael Caine,” “Lions & Tigers,” “Sky,” “Apocalypse,” “Hot or Not.” How weird5 is that on a scale from normal to freaky? Read More »


  1. Malcolm’s account of the trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova and Mikhail Mallayev for the murder of Borukhova’s estranged husband is the best article I’ve read in months. Janet Malcom makes sense of mayhem. She is patient. She lurks in all of the grey areas of this case. She’s perceptive, she allows the characters to take shape, and her own feelings about them to shift and evolve. I admire her brain and her writing. This isn't journalism, exactly—but what is it?
  2. Did you know Gorey, the great midcentury Victorian, never traveled to Britain, not once in his entire life?
  3. I’ll never forget that woman with a bob, lying on the top of the stone wall in her flapper dress, her ankles bound, dangling her handkerchief and moaning suggestively.
  4. Do you remember the psychedelic one-minute segments on how to count to twelve? I do. Why? Soundtrack by The Pointer Sisters!
  5. People do weirder stuff than that, right? RIGHT? IS ANYONE ELSE AWAKE?

A Week in Culture: Reagan Arthur, Part 2

June 24, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Arthur’s culture diary. Click here to read part 1.


6:10 A.M. The New York Times. More about Israel and the Gaza attacks. A surprising waste of space devoted to a co-op spat on the Upper East Side. I love reading about real estate and rich people behaving badly, but this feels small: boring fight and boring story. Bob Herbert on the oil spill. Henin and Ginepri are out of the French Open.

7:00 A.M. Managed to miss the train. On the bus instead, where my usual carsickness subsides enough to let me continue Operation Franzen.

8:15 A.M. E-mail includes news of a rave review by Julie Orringer in the Washington Post of Frederick Reiken’s Day For Night. I already loved Julie Orringer, but now I think she can do no wrong.

8:20 A.M. Great interview on the Huffington Post with Cal Morgan, editor at Harper Perennial and one of my earliest publishing pals when we were both at St. Martin’s Press. Cal is publishing some terrific fiction, in a really interesting way.

8:36 A.M. My morning spin around the blogs. Maud Newton, Betsy Lerner, Elegant Variation, Galley Cat, Sarah Weinman. With BEA last week I’m a little behind on these, and I see that Maud has been, as always, sharp and smart—this time about Garrison Keillor’s recent prediction that publishing is on its deathbed. Betsy Lerner writes about writing, publishing, and being an agent, and it’s beyond me how she manages to post a smart and witty new entry every day, but her blog has become a welcome daily habit.

12:23 P.M. Publishers Weekly, with round-up of last week’s BEA at Javits. Photo of Jon Stewart, who hosted the sold-out author breakfast, and provided the quote of the fair when he followed Condoleeza Rice’s apparently great speech with: “Don’t MAKE me like you.” I perform the editorial review scan: race through the review section for my own books, as well as books I saw, bid on, or passed on. These can bring pain or pleasure but today I’m spared both. Nice review for Don Winslow’s upcoming Savages. He’s the first writer I ever signed up, and a great guy to boot.

1:00 P.M. Glamorous publishing lunch: falafel at my desk. Twitter brings news that the Gores are divorcing: wow. And Twitter sends me to a deeply satisfying, hilarious review of Sex and the City 2 by Lindy West in The Stranger, which I promptly bookmark so I can read her more often.

1:10 P.M. Newsweek Tumblr in response to David Carr’s piece about their sale.

3:10 P.M. Break from work to check the Times online and dammit, Federer’s been knocked out of the French Open by the unpleasant Swede. I must Tweet my dismay.

4:45 P.M. Bookforum. Lovely Michael Greenberg essay about his near-death and his dying mother. Mary Gaitskill’s rigorous and convincing review of Marlene van Neikerk’s Agaat. Mark Stevens on the new Leo Castelli biography. Paul La Farge and Keith Gessen on utopia and dystopia. Reader, I skimmed. James Gibbons on Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death, which my colleague Pat Strachan edited—a “comic tour de force”! Hooray.

6:00 P.M. Franzen on the bus. The manuscript pile is growing. Must. Finish. Galley.

8:30 P.M. Manuscripts.

10:30 P.M. New Yorker. I love the Jeffrey Eugenides story set at Brown, which makes me nostalgic for my early New York City days when I was surrounded by Brown graduates who quickly cured me of saying “girl” instead of “woman” and other late-eighties infractions. Joan Acocella on “Cirque du Soleil,” which I just dragged my family to last week out on Randall’s Island. I could happily read Joan Acocella all day. The only thing that could make this New Yorker issue any better would be a Nancy Franklin review.
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