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Posts Tagged ‘FSG’

Rodrigo Corral Named Creative Director at Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Graphic designer Rodrigo Corral (pictured, via) has been named creative director at Macmillan’s Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG). According to Unbeige, Corral actually worked at FSG from 1996 to 2000 following his graduation from the School of Visual Arts.

Here’s more from Unbeige: “He begins in his new post early next month and will continue to run Rodrigo Corral Design, the nine-year-old studio behind such memorable book covers as those for James Frey‘s A Million Little Pieces, a shelf of Chuck Palahniuk novelsDebbie Millman‘s smashing How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, and Jay-Z‘s recent memoir-cum-lyrical codexDecoded.”

Rodrigo’s work has appeared in New York Magazine, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Book Review. His art has also been seen on books published by Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group (USA), and W.W. Norton.

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Further Ruminations on “Hot Young Author Chick Syndrome”

Remember the time when it was almost impossible to get a novel published if you were under 40? Remember when author photos were nixed if you looked too young for a serious endeavor? Yeah, I don’t either, but I have it on pretty good authority that’s what publishing was like in the thirty years after World War II. And then the photogenic boom set in and now we get articles like the cover story of this week’s Boston Phoenix about why authors must look goooooooood to get published. All the usual suspects – Pessl, Kunkel, Krauss & Foer, Freudenberger, Vachon – are namechecked and analyzed for why their looks helped get them a big publishing contract (a topic Ron covered in similar detail for Writer’s Digest last year.)

“It’s easier in life to be attractive. That’s reductive but true,” says HarperCollins editor Gail Winston to Sharon Steel. “On the other hand, a brilliant book by an author who is not young and not attractive isn’t going to fail. It’s just, I think that those other books – for those reasons, those authors maybe get a little bit of an advantage.” But Gawker’s Emily Gould wishes the story was a little different. “The combination of fair-to-middling – or even strong but underdeveloped – talent with attractiveness and youth seems to be eternal catnip to publishers, if not reading audiences, and I think that’s a shame. What I am deeply, passionately opposed to is all the ridiculous praise that’s heaped on just-okay books because of the looks and pedigree and other accomplishments of their authors.”

Another feeling the adulation and backlash is Katherine Taylor (first talked about here last fall when I speculated she was a good bet for a Starbucks pick, which didn’t happen.) “I haven’t had a very long career as a writer, but while I was publishing stories, and when I got this book contract [for RULES FOR SAYING GOODBYE, published last spring by FSG] nobody knew what I looked like or who I was at all. My appearance had nothing to do with anything,” Taylor says. “But I’m not terribly concerned…The book is there, the book is always going to be there…I think the book stands on its own. All the noise surrounding it is just noise. I feel like whatever you have to do to get your book in the cultural conversation is all fair,” Taylor continues. “Because the bottom line is, you’ve put so much of yourself and so many years of your life into what you’re doing. The greatest tragedy would be if nobody noticed.”

Several Figures Directly Included in Speech

One wouldn’t necessarily think that essayist and thinker Susan Sontag could generate fresh news – what with her having died recently – but as the Observer’s Michael Calderone reports, a 2004 speech just published in a posthumous collection by FSG has sparked some controversy for the discovery that a section on hyperfiction owes a great debt (almost word for word) to a New York Times Book Review piece by Laura Miller in 1998. The similarities were discovered by John Lavagnino, a senior lecturer in humanities and computing at King’s College London, who wrote a short letter to the editor published in the Times Literary Supplement:

“Shortly after personal computers and word-processing programs became commonplace tools for writers, a brave new future for fiction was trumpeted,” Miller had written in the lead of her New York Times Book Review piece.

“Ever since word-processing programs became commonplace tools for most writers-including me-there have been those who assert that there is now a brave new future for fiction,” were the words Sontag delivered in the 2004 lecture.

Miller also wrote: “Hypertext is sometimes said to mimic real life, with its myriad opportunities and surprising outcomes…”

Sontag wrote: “Hyperfiction is sometimes said to mimic real life, with its myriad opportunities and surprising outcomes…”

FSG publisher Jonathan Galassi said that Sontag “didn’t prepare the speech for publication” but that if the allegations prove true, a correction will be added in future printings. Meanwhile, Miller said to Calderone that she initially thought that Sontag “lifted my research” – committing what might amount to a literary misdemeanor. “When I actually sat down and read it,” she said, “it was more than that. The kind of irony is that it was in a lecture on morality and literature.”

Chabon Gets Rewrites

At the Wall Street Journal, Michael Chabon goes into extensive detail about the long gestation time of THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION – and how the book, originally slated for publication in 2006, had to be rewritten pretty much from the ground up in about eight months. “I shudder now when I think that I would have published the old draft,” Chabon told the WSJ’s Sam Schechner. Instead, he got back to work on what became a hybrid alternate history/crime novel, added a flashback structure and pared down the language into a hard-boiled, Yiddish-inflected patois. “I felt like I had to invent a whole new dialect of English to finish it,” Chabon said.

The article reveals just how high the stakes are: HarperCollins won the book in an auction 5 years ago based off a 1 and a half page proposal (when it was still called HOTZEPLOTZ) and to get the book to where it is now, Chabon’s editor, Courtney Hodell (now at FSG) would mail extensive manuscript notes and go through it line by line on trips to his Berkeley home. And while Chabon said he sometimes had a “defensive reaction” to edits, he is thankful in retrospect that Hodell challenged him throughout the process, calling her the “redeemer of this novel” in his acknowledgments. “I do overwrite,” he says. “And this book needed a lot of chopping.”

One of the Easiest Answers Ever Published

  • “Why, why, why would a company publish a book this good and then practically demand that people not read it?” he asks. “Why not put the heroine on the jacket… [and] “sell this baby a little?” – Stephen King on FIELDWORK by Mischa Berlinski, Entertainment Weekly
  • “[H]ow do you sell someone as strange, original and indisputably non-American as Roberto Bolano in a U.S. market surrounded, as [Susan] Sontag once wrote, by a “wall of indifference to foreign literature” — a market in which…less than .5 percent of the books published are fiction in translation?” – Bob Thompson on THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES by Roberto Bolano, The Washington Post

The answer: You’re FSG! Your name does all the work! Media comes to you, not the other way around! You don’t have to worry about selling oodles and oodles of copies because your name is your brand (something that HarperCollins and Random House would probably kill for, by the way.) You sit in your ivory towers and ruminate on why the general population can’t possibly understand the virtues of poetry and highbrow intelligentsia and make very, very sure to state over and over that, no we couldn’t possibly publish chick lit in any way, shape or form. Can’t anyone understand? Won’t those mainstream media nincompoops get with the program?! You’re FSG! You rule the literary Britannia!

Katherine Taylor Falls Into Chick Lit Bait Trap

In reading debut novelist Katherine Taylor ‘s interview with the New York Observer’s Spencer Morgan, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the first time James Frey made headlines, long before any charges of fake writing and fabrication were levied his way. No, I’m talking about the interview where he railed against Dave Eggers‘s A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS in particularly profane terms, and then it turned out that Frey, like so many men of his generation, is a casual f-bomb dropper without any real malice attached to it. So where do you think that first interview, the one that got Frey in so much trouble, ran? The New York Observer, of course!

So what is up with the salmon tabloid charming opinionated (at best) or incendiary (at worst) from young, impressionable writers? In Taylor ‘s case, perhaps it’s the constant dangling of the chick lit carrot what with her novel – published by FSG this May (and an early theorized candidate for the Starbucks slot occupied by Ishmael Beah) – set amidst glamorous New York surroundings and adorned with the chicklit-standard cocktail glass, cigarettes and pink lettering. “But I love it,” she said. “It works, and I love that [the cover] looks like an old film still and that it’s an old-fashioned cocktail glass and that the woman is wearing dark nail polish, not something bright.” Besides, one has to cut Taylor slack if only for her closing comment: “Indecision [by Benjamin Kunkel] was ridiculously simple, I thought. And had it been a girl who’d written it, it would have had the pinkest cover in the world. It would have been the pinkest of all-time pink covers.” Can’t argue with that…