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Books  >   Biographies and Memoirs : Arts and Literature : Authors : 

Stet: An Editor's Life

Athill, Diana
Athill, Diane

Grove Press
Published:April 27, 2001

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Description: From Publishers Weekly
For nearly 50 years, Athill edited some of the best minds of the postwar generation, including Molly Keane, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Brian Moore, V.S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys, Mordecai Richler, Philip Roth, Gitta Sereny and John Updike. A founding director of the now-defunct London publishing house Andre Deutsch Ltd., Athill "intervened" with legendary taste and self-restraint, earning her the loyalty, and sometimes the friendship, of her frequently tetchy, fragile authors ("Writers don't encounter really attentive readers as often as you might expect, and find them balm to their twitchy nerves when they do; which gives their editors a good start with them"). Athill, now an exuberant 83, looks back on her half-century in the business, beginning with her wartime fling with Hungarian ex-pat Andre Deutsch. The affair was brief, but the relationship flourished, as the two founded first Allan Wingate (which "pounced" to publish The Naked and the Dead) and then, in 1952, the house that bore both Deutsch's name and the stamp of his ego. Dealing with his temper and self-indulgence prepared Athill for playing "nanny" to a series of difficult writers, chief among them the "ugly drunk" Rhys; Morris Chester, an all-but-forgotten surrealist novelist plagued by "voices"; and Naipaul, whom Athill categorizes as the petulant and depressive. Cheerfully self-effacing as editor and friend, Athill offers few details of her personal life. But on the subject of her workplace and the "Interesting People" she met there, she is unfailingly candid, generous, witty and astute, an eyewitness with a famously discerning eye. Agent, Angela Rose, Granta Books, London. (Mar.) Forecast: Publishing insiders and the literarily curious will find Athill's portraits of leading contemporary authors irresistible. That won't translate into major sales, but it does offer an opportunity to enterprising booksellers, who may find happy results if they display this title along with Jason Epstein's forthcoming Book Business.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Description:
For nearly five decades Diana Athill edited (nursed, coerced, and coaxed) some of the most celebrated writers in the English language. Stet is her "charming and insightful memoir of life in a publishing house when it was possible to be small, live hand to mouth, and attract big authors" (Bookseller). A founding editor of the prestigious literary publishing house Andre Deutsch Ltd., Athill takes us on a guided tour through the corridors of literary London, illuminating the portraits of some of the century's most fascinating writers from her unique and privileged perspective as editor, friend, and keenly observant insider. Vividly evocative and engaging, Stet is spiced with candid observations about the type of people who make brilliant writers and ingenious publishers, and the idiosyncrasies of both; and it is enlivened by her memories of such great literary figures as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, Gitta Sereny, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Mordecai Richler, and a host of others. Most of all, it is Athill's voice that captivates -- intimate, lively, generous, humorous -- the voice of a favorite aunt who is as warm and big-hearted as she is worldly and irreverent. Packed with delights, this is a book about the world of books, about people who write them and the process of making them, a world dissected with sharp and irresistible honesty. Stet is an invaluable contribution to the literature of literature.

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