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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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... Jason Epstein’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 hence, of ‘the global village green … undisciplined, polymorphous and polyglot, as has been our fate and our milieu ever since the divine autocracy showed its muscle by toppling the monolingual Tower of Babel ...


Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party, 8 February 2018

... was in an apartment on West 67th Street, in the Hotel des Artistes, the building where Barbara and Jason Epstein along with Elizabeth Hardwick founded the New York Review of Books. Jason Epstein liked to let it be known that Robert Silvers wasn’t at the supper when the idea for the review was hatched. But Silvers ...

Moto Poeta

Frederick Seidel, 1 August 2019

... To see the nearby blue eye of the ocean. In Sag Harbor, New York, Water on three sides, Lives Jason Epstein, 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 overnight Which had been involved in a widely ...


Frank Kermode: American Books, 1 April 1983

... the Library of America was launched, under the direction of Daniel Aaron, Richard Poirier and Jason Epstein, 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 the Humanities. Then they went to work with ...

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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... we associate with Burroughs’s later writing, especially Junky, a book, which when shown to Jason Epstein, 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-boiled style does not come naturally to Kerouac, but his ...

Bill and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

Christopher Hitchens, 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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... acknowledgments, Morris warmly thanks Random House editors of the stature of Harold Evans and Jason Epstein. 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 dollars were paid up front, in a surreptitious agreement of ...


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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... essays drew admiring notices (The Shores of Light remains the best of his collections). Meanwhile, Jason Epstein 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 in the decade following its original publication. All ...

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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... writer needs from his immediates. He breaks with his longtime friend, editor and fellow foodie Jason Epstein, 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 satire Duluth ...


John Sutherland: Do books have a future?, 25 May 2006

... be out of date. It’s even hard for Miller to keep up. She is unawed by Amazon, which, like Jason Epstein 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-and-order webstore, but it has been obliged ...

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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... impersonate in Montreux”.’ ‘It is a false idea to imagine a real Nabokov,’ their friend Jason Epstein 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 rottweiller. ‘It was her fervent and unreasonable conviction ...

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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... Newman and Joanne Woodward, gluttonous and bibulous tours of French restaurants with his editor Jason Epstein, 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 identified themselves as closely with the history of ...

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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... itself. But rumours spread that the link was more direct than this. As another American liberal, Jason Epstein, 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 has been admitted. However, in this case ...

The Price

Dan Jacobson: The concluding part of Dan Jacobson’s interview with Ian Hamilton, 21 February 2002

... the American. I was looked on favourably by both for some reason and I knew people on both sides. Jason Epstein 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 married previously. She knew I had a letter from ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... to handle the book. His original publisher rejected the manuscript. His friend and fellow editor Jason Epstein 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 persevered, stuck his chin out, and boy did he get ...

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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... the soon-to-be-distinguished poet and scholar John Hollander, the critic Steven Marcus, and Jason Epstein, 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 enrolled in Trilling’s seminar on 19th-century English ...

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