A Week in Culture: Reagan Arthur, Part 2


The Culture Diaries

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.


6:05 A.M. NPR. As usual, my morning NPR listening is in fits and starts, between letting the dog out and making coffee and retrieving the paper. Why is the tail end of this top-of-the-hour story about Paul McCartney?

6:15 A.M. New York Times. Here’s what I’ve been bracing myself for: the review of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Three years ago I was the underbidder on this terrific thriller, and for the past six months the drumbeats have been pounding. It will be big. Maslin seems slightly tempered but positive overall, as is the rest of the book-obsessed world in which I live.

6:20 A.M. Moving on. NPR has a long story about Einstein’s brain.

6:25 A.M. Sweet Times story about the ball boys and girls at the French Open, who sing an inspirational song every morning before they go to work.

7:00 A.M. Bus. Say it with me now: Franzen. End is near. Book is great.

7:45 A.M. Walk across town reading Franzen and finish it in my lobby. Loved it.

8:30 A.M. Twitter directs me to The, where David Remnick has made some bracing remarks about paid content: this is “not water that comes out of the sink.” Exactly. I poke around The Observer a bit more.

9:40 A.M. Wednesdays are when the new Bookscan data appears. I log on to see what’s selling. And what’s not.

12:15 P.M. Vanity Sally Quinn profile, filled with great and horrifying tales of family disharmony and bad behavior.

3:30 P.M. The office copy of next week’s New York Times Book Review circulates its way to my desk. Why, look, here’s Franzen again: this time writing a long essay in appreciation of Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children. My mom muscled her way through that on a summer vacation two years ago. Unlike me, she will not stop reading a novel once she’s started, and as a result is far better read than I’ll ever be.

4:30 P.M. The Times has published its story about the New Yorker 20-under-40 fiction issue, which includes our author Joshua Ferris. Now it can be told! I take to Twitter and Facebook to share the link.

6:00 P.M. Manuscripts on the bus. Real life is back.

8:00 P.M. My family and I watch an episode of The Middle.

9:00 P.M. Manuscripts.

11:00 P.M. The Daily Show.

11:05 P.M. Sleep.


5:00 A.M. Editing, after quick Facebook Wordscraper moves, Twitter check.

6:30 A.M. The New York Times. Oil spill. Abortion opponents gaining ground. Peter Orlovsky obituary. David Rosenthal, publisher of Simon and Schuster, is stepping down.

8:30 A.M. E-mail confirms the rumor: the new Simon & Schuster publisher is my Hachette colleague, Jon Karp.

9:00 A.M. Morning Internet spin: Publishers Marketplace, Galley Cat, Twitter, Guardian, Gawker. Diarist confession: I can’t find the notes I took for this morning beyond the sites I visited. The gist: industry gossip, media-related news, UK news and book reviews, general gossip. Subsequent hours filled with work, lunch, more work, and a fun drinks date. Media may be discussed but not actually consumed until…

10:00 P.M. A date with my ladies: Real Housewives of New York, season finale. Ramona and Mario renew their vows. Scott and I renew our own vow never to renew our vows.

11:00 P.M. Daily Show.


6:00 A.M. The Times. Front page for the Detroit Tigers pitcher denied a perfect game by a bad call. In the Business section, brainy boys make good: more about Jon Karp’s new job at Simon & Schuster and Nate Silver is joining the Times. Arts section: Scott, who originally moved to New York to be a painter, performs his party trick, identifying a David Salle painting, and the year, from ten paces.

8:00 A.M. Editing at home. Summer hours, one of publishing’s greatest perks, began last week, so technically I could knock off at one, but this manuscript is long and I want to barrel through until the kids get home from school.

6:15 P.M. Yoga. My studio’s usual Friday night “Bob Marley Flow” is on summer hiatus. Tonight it’s “80s Night” instead and this is not as painful as I anticipate, but I’m never going to love Bon Jovi, no matter how long I live in New Jersey.

9:00 P.M. Gavin and Stacey.

Reagan Arthur is the editorial director of Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Little, Brown, and Company.