Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
A posthumous memoir goes behind the scenes at the celebrated publisher of Burroughs, Lawrence, and Malcolm X.
Ooh, the fabled Golden Age of publishing! That era is sandwiched in the cultural imagination sometime between The Great Gatsby and James Franco's Amazon book deal. It smells like cigarette butts in a tumbler of whiskey and looks like an Instagram. From what I hear, it was just like Mad Men, but more literate, and there was even more sex (but you had to go to Frankfurt every year, so, eh). In The Tender Hour of Twilight(FSG), a posthumously published memoir by the onetime Grove Press editor Richard Seaver, we have a document that displays that age's actual, bona fide wonders—and reminds us things weren’t golden for everyone.
Richard Seaver was born in 1926, was 14 for Pearl Harbor, and joined the Navy at 17. They sent him to college as an officer and he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, was discharged in 1946, taught at a private school in Connecticut (where he started a wrestling team) and then signed up for an American Field Service fellowship to France, taking a decommissioned troop transport ship with Hemingway's son, Patrick. He arrived in Europe just a few years after the conclusion of World War II, a time that is almost unimaginable to us these days.
Seaver was, one gathers, a foxy bro and a very nice dude who just loved writers. He became a writer himself in the most casual way imaginable; in his telling, he would just send back pieces to American newspapers about French things. And he loved the new authors: His doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne was on James Joyce, but his greatest enthusiasm was Samuel Beckett, well before Waiting for Godot.
Read the rest Here