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Regan a Clef and More Publishing-Inspired Books

AP’s Hillel Italie is the latest reporter to profile Bridie Clark and her debut novel BECAUSE SHE CAN. No matter how much she and Warner Books, the book’s publisher, swear up and down that the dragon-lady boss character, Vivian Grant, bears no resemblance to Judith Regan, about the only major difference is that Grant is a blonde and Regan’s a brunette. But the piece is more fun for who gets quoted about the paucity of insider-ish novels about our favorite industry. “It isn’t that kind of business,” says Jason Epstein, a longtime editor with Doubleday and Random House whose many authors have included Norman Mailer and E.L. Doctorow. “It’s very gentlemanly, and there isn’t a lot of scandal to write about. You publish a book, it sells or it doesn’t sell, and then you publish another one.”

Other editors who get ink include Rob Weisbach (who namechecks Adam Davies‘ THE FROG KING as a publishing-drenched novel and praises Clark for her good editing skills!) and Robert Gottlieb, who cited Herman Wouk‘s YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE, a 1961 novel about a publishing sensation who lives fast and dies faster. “But publishing is not a glamorous business,” Gottlieb says. “It involves people sitting home and reading long manuscripts and then putting their pencils on the paper and making notations. Someone may set a novel in the publishing industry, but I don’t see it as the basis for a strong novel.”

Strong, no; vivid, yes, but then there are certain scenes in Olivia Goldsmith‘s THE BESTSELLER that are impossible to clear from our heads…

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