Wednesday, March 16, 2005

More Maschler

On Monday I referred to a number of reviews of Publisher, by Tom Maschler. And today there is another review of the book in Private Eye.

Tom Maschler, we are reminded by the Eye, played a pivotal role in post-war British publishing of the literary kind. For somewhere near three decades he presided over the affairs of Jonathan Cape, a firm which he modestly describes in his memoirs as 'the greatest literary house in England.'

There is, however, a problem with the memoirs of this great man. Every reviewer seems obliged to point out, despite the cosiness and mutual-back-scratching nature of the UK book world, that the memoirs reveal a crass, insensitive individual, who continually states the obvious, tells us nothing remotely interesting or new, and seems obsessed with celebrity. Overall, as the Eye reviewer puts it, 'Maschler has no idea what might interest his audience and what might not.'

Well, of course, I haven't read the book, so I am not in an ideal position to judge. But it is certainly true that Publisher was written by a man who for decades made the key decisions about whether to publish certain literary novels or not. And so it follows, inevitably, that he cannot possibly be the clueless moron that the reviews suggest. The only possible conclusion from these facts is that Maschler's book is some sort of postmodernist joke. It is a super-sophisticated parody of the publisher's-memoir genre.

Yes, on reflection I'm quite sure that that is the answer.

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