Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cynicism writ large

It is one of the ironies of my life that I have often been regarded as a deeply cynical individual; and yet the truth is that I am, was, and ever will be, hopelessly naive.

As proof, here is a statement which I found on the Galleycat blog. It is made by one Joni Evans, of whom I had not heard, but who is apparently a former big-time publishing executive and, until recently, a top agent at William Morris. Here is what she says about a lesson learnt early in life while working for a magazine:
The magazine did a poetry issue once, and the editors needed important people to write for it. I had a famous uncle who was the poetry editor of the New Yorker, so at the general editorial meeting, I raised my hand and said, "I can get Howard Moss." There was silence in the room. Then everyone turned to little Joni as if to say, How do you know Howard Moss? Within a week, I was promoted. I got a raise and a better desk. And that's how I learned that everything is about who you know, not what you know.
It is a measure of how truly naive I am that, when I read this statement I did not gravely nod my head and mutter Yes, this is the way it is. On the contrary, I gasped, clutched my heart, and reached for those little blue pills that the doctor gave me and which I had never thought I would need.


Anonymous said...

I was reaching for little blue pills when I tried to get any text at all for David Bergen, winner of
last nights impressive Giller Prize here in Toronto.
Like many another evious bastard, I thought I'd look up David Bergen to find out if he was any good, but Google couldn't find me any example of Mr. Bergen's work. Fact is, I was listed about a hundred times more often than he, but that is because I am garrulous to all and sundry sites.
I would be interested on your take on the Giller Prize, put up by a rich Canadian philathropist, the award commemorating his wife.
Do you have any more of those little blue pills? Insomnia, like most things Greek, is driving me crazy.

Brenda Coulter said...

I don't think it was "knowing somebody" that secured that promotion. All of us know people who know people. The fledgling editor didn't say, "My famous uncle edits Howard Moss; maybe I could ask for a favor." She stated confidently that she could get Howard Moss.


Anonymous said...

Who's Howard Moss?