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Long live the codex

John Sutherland: The future of books

5 July 2001
Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future 
by Jason Epstein.
Norton, 188 pp., £16.95, March 2001, 0 393 04984 1
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... JasonEpstein’s imagination stretches from primeval man, arranging ‘meaningful phonemes to the beat of stone upon stone or to the sound of hollowed logs used as drums’, to the impact on book business, eons ...


Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party

8 February 2018
... million copies of his book had been sold. TV rights appeared to be sold between courses. The party was in an apartment on West 67th Street, in the Hotel des Artistes, the building where Barbara and JasonEpstein along with Elizabeth Hardwick founded the New York Review of Books. JasonEpstein liked to let it be known that Robert Silvers wasn’t at the supper when the idea for the review was hatched ...

Moto Poeta

Frederick Seidel

1 August 2019
... rippling, bucking Old Montauk Highway, Which you enter after Amagansett, Roller-coastering high enough To see the nearby blue eye of the ocean. In Sag Harbor, New York, Water on three sides, Lives JasonEpstein, ninety years old. He was my first publisher And was somewhat sinister, And spoke in a sinister whisper, But was a man of surpassing charm. He read the manuscript of my book Final Solutions ...


Frank Kermode: American Books

1 April 1983
... stand not so much on library shelves as on those of the ordinary educated reader. After many vicissitudes the Library of America was launched, under the direction of Daniel Aaron, Richard Poirier and JasonEpstein, who had worked with Wilson on the original abortive project. These people and their associates raised $600,000 from the Ford Foundation and then $1.2 million from the National Endowment for ...

He K-norcked Her One

August Kleinzahler: Burroughs and Kerouac’s Novel

28 May 2009
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 
by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Penguin, 214 pp., £20, November 2008, 978 1 84614 164 5
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... remarkable book in which violent and depraved behaviour is related with the almost nonchalant graphicness we associate with Burroughs’s later writing, especially Junky, a book, which when shown to JasonEpstein, then a young editor at Doubleday, met with the response: ‘The prose is not very good. This could only work if it was written by someone important, like Winston Churchill.’ The hard ...


Stefan Collini: Edmund Wilson

17 November 2005
Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature 
by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 642 pp., £35, August 2005, 0 374 11312 2
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... reputation rather than, as can sometimes happen, damaging it: the quality and variety of his essays drew admiring notices (The Shores of Light remains the best of his collections). Meanwhile, JasonEpstein had launched his Anchor paperback imprint and reissued several of Wilson’s earlier books: To the Finland Station, in particular, sold much better in this format in the 1950s and 1960s than ...

Perfectly Human

Jenny Diski: Lillie Langtry and Mrs Vladimir Nabokov

1 July 1999
Lillie Langtry: Manners, Masks and Morals 
by Laura Beatty.
Chatto, 336 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 85619 513 9
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Véra (Mrs Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage 
by Stacy Schiff.
Random House, 456 pp., $27.95, April 1999, 0 679 44790 3
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... was but the poor relation of the writer, only too happy to refer to himself as “the person I usually impersonate in Montreux”.’ ‘It is a false idea to imagine a real Nabokov,’ their friend JasonEpstein concluded. The reality of the life was for the two of them alone, only the writing and the selling of the books mattered, and Véra attended to that with the tenacity of a literary ...
20 February 1997
Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties 
by Dick Morris.
Random House, 382 pp., $25.95, January 1997, 9780679457473
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... cynicism. I would refute that. Which brings us to another aspect of this scandal. In his Uriah Heep-like acknowledgments, Morris warmly thanks Random House editors of the stature of Harold Evans and JasonEpstein. Never mind for the moment that Random House doesn’t employ a copy-editor who knows the use or meaning of the word ‘refute’. Here is a ‘book’ for which two and a half million ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal

10 May 2007
Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... subject.’ There were, of course, many worlds for Vidal elsewhere: travels through Greece with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, gluttonous and bibulous tours of French restaurants with his editor JasonEpstein, conversations with his Roman neighbour Italo Calvino, lunch with E.M. Forster, chat with Princess Margaret. But in Rome there were only months of reading, and Old Glory. Few people have ...


John Sutherland: Do books have a future?

25 May 2006
... tradition. The current state of the trade is so fluid that the protests and the anguish may already be out of date. It’s even hard for Miller to keep up. She is unawed by Amazon, which, like JasonEpstein in Book Business (2001), she sees as an old-fashioned mail-order operation, with a nifty electronic sales catalogue as its main selling point. It may, she notes, project itself as a futuristic click ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal

3 February 2000
Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... not only of a dynamic connection to a responsive, literate audience but of the supportive feedback every writer needs from his immediates. He breaks with his longtime friend, editor and fellow foodie JasonEpstein, with whom he binged on eating tours through the finest restaurants in France, over Epstein’s half-hearted-to-frankly-hostile responses to his more far-out fiction – e.g. the soap-opera ...

Stainless Splendour

Stefan Collini: How innocent was Stephen Spender?

22 July 2004
Stephen Spender: The Authorised Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Viking, 627 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 670 88303 4
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... that a certain tenderness for the US as the ‘leader of the free world’ was not discreditable in itself. But rumours spread that the link was more direct than this. As another American liberal, JasonEpstein, later recalled (he is quoted by Stonor Saunders): ‘By the middle of the 1960s anybody who didn’t know it was a fool. Everybody knew.’ Of course, that’s easy to say once the adultery ...

The Price

Dan Jacobson: The concluding part of Dan Jacobson’s interview with Ian Hamilton

21 February 2002
... It came from various quarters. Which it had to, because there were two warring camps: the English and the American. I was looked on favourably by both for some reason and I knew people on both sides. JasonEpstein at Random House was very keen that I should do it. But I had to get a letter from Lowell’s last wife, Caroline Blackwood, and then get a letter from Lizzie Hardwick, to whom he’d been ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’

17 May 2017
Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... of his candour. Numerous interventionists attempted to save him from himself. His agent didn’t want to handle the book. His original publisher rejected the manuscript. His friend and fellow editor JasonEpstein advised him to throw it in the river. Even Lionel Trilling, seldom stirred to intervene in the affairs of mortals, urged him not to publish the book, and Gandalf is never wrong. But Podhoretz ...

Big Pod

Richard Poirier: How Podhoretz Dumped His Friends

2 September 1999
by Norman Podhoretz.
Free Press, 256 pp., $25, February 1999, 0 684 85594 1
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... others into his life, all of them more friendly than Ginsberg ever proved to be. There were, for example, the soon-to-be-distinguished poet and scholar John Hollander, the critic Steven Marcus, and JasonEpstein, destined to become a force in New York publishing. None of these was to figure in his career with the importance of Lionel Trilling. The two first met when, in his senior year, Podhoretz ...

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