Sunday, March 18, 2012

Editor Not Ready to Write an Ending


Robert Silvers, the editor of The New York Review of Books, received a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Critics Circle last week, and next month he will get another, from The Paris Review. Neither award is likely to stop the kind of speculation that invariably takes place whenever too many New York intellectuals remain too long in one room: Mr. Silvers can’t stay on forever, presumably, so who is going to succeed him?

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Robert Silvers in his office at The New York Review of Books in the West Village. He says he has no plans to step down from editing the publication.
Right - photo by Joe Tabacca
At least at dinner parties, names suggested to succeed Robert Silvers include Louis Menand. Rea Hederman, the tall, courtly Southerner who owns The New York Review, says that he has been asked the succession question practically every day since he bought the publication in 1984, and he still has no answer.
“Bob is the editor,” he said recently. “When he’s not the editor, then we’ll look for one. It’s not something we discuss or plan for.”
Mr. Silvers, who turned 82 last New Year’s Eve, likes to say, in typically formal syntax, that the question of who will succeed him at the “paper,” as he calls The Review, is “not one that is presenting itself.” Despite having a pacemaker installed in the past year, he said he felt as energetic as ever.
“I think about concentrating on doing our issues and making them as interesting as possible,” he went on. “Really, that’s what’s on my mind. If I had some reason to think that I ought to slow down or do something else, I would probably feel differently, but I don’t.”
The disinclination of Mr. Silvers and Mr. Hederman to identify a successor has not stopped others from doing it for them, or from studying The Review like Kremlinologists looking for fissures in the Politburo.

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