Bob Silvers made his writers want to be equal to a possible image he had of a possible you.
I was thirty when Bob Silvers first sent me a book for review—a collection of Nabokov’s translations of Russian poetry into English. This was toward the end of 2008. I revered The New York Review of Books; it was an ideal supranational habitat. The unexpected FedEx package, with its accompanying modest note making the proposal, as if continuing a permanent—if ineffable—conversation, made me dazzlingly anxious. A couple of weeks later, he e-mailed—on New Year’s Eve, which was also, I would discover, his birthday—to say that while reading “with admiration” a book I had written, he had noticed an error in it that might be corrected in a paperback edition. I had quoted the duc de Saint-Simon’s portrait of “Madame” from his Memoirs and glossed this as a portrait of Madame de Maintenon. “Saint-Simon was referring not to Madame de Maintenon,” wrote Bob—or, as I was to find out, dictated Bob, “but to ‘Madame,’ i.e. Elizabeth Charlotte, Palatine of Bavaria, second wife of ‘Monsieur,’ duc d’Orleans. She was in fact German.”
I felt a rush of total love. Read More