A CONVERSATION WITH
Q: What should a writer expect from his publisher?
Literary history, of which publishing is only a part, is marvelous and fluid. The
publishing of books is itself a curious undertaking. In Europe and America, the
organization, financing, distribution, and expectation of profit of the industry, that is,
its entire structure, is different than it was ten years ago. Substantially, however, what
has been changed? Do people read more bad books than ever? Fewer good books? Why should a
marketers opinion matter at an editorial meeting? What has become of the
Was publishing ever so good as its said to have been? What, indeed, was
gentlemanly about it?
I thought I would ask some notables of an older generation what they thought about
these matters. I wondered, What do publishers do? Why do they do it? What sort of lives do
In turn, they recounted experience, spoke of writers they published and did not
publish, took note of the social and political hierarchies of their occupation, talked
straight about money, commerce, and corporate capitalism, ruminated on the importance of
language. They recognized that times have changed, but did not agree, necessarily, on why
Excerpts of these conversations will appear regularly in ARCHIPELAGO
and may serve as an opening onto an institutional memory contrasting itself with the
current establishment, reflecting on its glories, revealing what remains constant amid the
present flux. Despite their surround of gentility, these publishers are strong-minded
characters engaged with their historical circumstances. Out of that engagement have
appeared a number of books that we can say, rightly, belong to literature.
Marion Boyars, of Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd
Marion Boyars began her publishing career in 1960, by buying
half-equity in the firm of John Calder, who was known in England for publishing
avant-garde writers, among them Samuel Beckett. In 1964, the firm
took the name of both owners. For more than 15 years they published
the work of novelists considered among the most avant-garde and literary in Britain, among
them Beckett, William Burroughs, Henry Miller, Elias Canetti, Peter Weiss, Heinrich Böll,
Hubert Selby (LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, prosecuted for obscenity);
translations of the nouveau romain; the writings of modern composers, and books by
social thinkers. In 1975, Boyars and Calder began to dissolve the
company; by 1980, the list had been divided
Since 1975, Marion Boyars has published fiction, belles lettres
and criticism, poetry, music, theater and cinema, social issues, and biography and
Among book-people, she is considered a beautifully educated, very literary publisher
with a strong list, particularly, in fiction and music. She publishes a number of Eastern
European writers in translation and is, herself, fluent in three languages. How she
succeeds financially is much speculated about, as her books are expensive; she is said to
be very aggressive at selling rights. She is also said to be observed closely by agents
and other editors, who have been known to take her authors away; with rueful pride, she
acknowledges this. Odile Hellier, of the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris, praises her for
having resuscitated the career of Julian Green, the nonagenarian Virginian novelist and
diarist who is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the Académie
Française, and whose work is not well known in America.
Marion Boyars Publishers was to be found in a narrow building on a side-street in
Putney, a busy little London village south of the Thames, beside a mens hairstyling
salon and a Pakistani take-away restaurant. A small display-window held a dozen or so
recent volumes. This was a publishing house in the old-fashioned parlance.
Inside, the editorial office accommodated five people, all of them capable editors, who
read amid tall bookcases lining the walls. Authors photographs hung in the
stairwell; desks were piled with books, papers, manuscripts. There were word processors
but no computers. The fax machine worked erratically. The piles and stacks did not
indicate disorder: this looked to be the sort of establishment run on idiosyncratic but
perfectly reasonable lines. Upstairs, under the roof, the directors office was a
room smaller and more crowded with bookcases. The air was dense with cigarette
Marion Boyars, director of her firm, was a tiny woman of indeterminate age and bright,
sharp eyes. Her mouth was handsome; she smiled widely and often. Her voice was soft but
emphatic, her accent not quite placeable; she was born in America but in 1950,
had come to England to live, and had adapted its form to her intention. She was pleased
her visitor did not mind the smoke.
Acquaintance was made, the tape recorder set up, the cigarette lit, the invitation
given to go ahead. She was asked to reflect on why she became a publisher.
Why She Became a Publisher.
BOYARS: Its a strange business. I find it very difficult to
understand why anybody can do this now. You learn something about yourself: what you know;
what you want. And I knew that I was not a writer. -- Ones curiosity is challenged,
and its a complex field.
McNAMARA: You went into publishing because it seemed the thing to
BOYARS: Only for me. What I did, actually, was unusual at the
time: I bought half a publishing company. I had a lot of confidence in myself, and I
wanted to start a career that was intellectually stimulating and demanding. My financial
advisor showed me an advertisement in The Bookseller: the publisher John Calder was
looking for a partner. My advisor looked into it and thought it was a good idea. And then
I met John Calder, and I liked him, and so I bought fifty percent equity in the firm. That
was in 1960. We began at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
And we had adventurous times together, especially during the first ten years. The
Calder & Boyars imprint published some of the best pioneering writers of the 60s, people like Samuel Beckett and Alain Robbe-Grillet, Georges Bataille,
Ivan Ilich and John Cage, Hubert Selby, and so on. Our writers were often controversial --
we published in the fields of fiction, music, the social sciences.
But our relationship deteriorated. In 1975 we slowly dissolved
the partnership: we created two new imprints, John Calder, and Marion Boyars. By 1980, the separation was complete. We had appointed an arbitrator to
divide the old C&B list, but the division was uneven, in
Johns favor, whereas I had bought 50% equity in the firm.
I had a wonderful lawyer. I called him up and said, What should I do?
Fight a little, he said. And I fought a little; unsuccessfully.
We continued to share premises, sales, and distribution, until I moved to these offices in
My goal in publishing was to give voice to exciting new ideas, you see, ideas which
excited me. This list is a reflection of my own interests: I want to share these ideas.
Many of the writers we published have become modern classics. I had some very good books
from the old Calder & Boyars. The big money-maker is still ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST. [Books and authors are listed at
the end of Part 3.] That was my book.
But there is also a good percentage of failures.
She Was Their Mascot.
Publishing used to be called a gentlemans occupation. It is perhaps best to
remember that gentleman, in its primary meaning, does not mean mere good
manners, but is a class or station in society; and furthermore, that good manners may be
wielded as deftly and cruelly as any other weapon.
BOYARS: There was a strange club, a secret club for men who owned
their publishing houses. Very few of them are left now; most have had to sell, and many of
them have lost their job. But then, they were very elegant. There was a trip to Russia,
the first delegation of British publishers to Russia, all the big boys of publishing, and
me. It was because of that trip that I was invited to join the club.
McNAMARA: How did the trip to Russia come about?
BOYARS: There was going to be a delegation of British publishers
to China. I had published a book about China [Julia Kristeva, ABOUT CHINESE
WOMEN]. I was interested in the women, as women do the work in most countries; and
I was an independent publisher. I was not accepted, because the Chinese wanted scientific
and language publishers. The Publishers Association then promised me that I could select
my next trip, and I chose Russia. I was part of the first English-language group to go; it
was around 1981. A person from the Foreign Office briefed us
beforehand, instructing us not to speak of politics.
Most of the group were scientific, or language, or specialized publishers. They said,
Why dont you write an essay about fiction, translation, poetry, the
theater? So I went to the hairdresser, wrote my little essay, Arthur [Boyars, her
husband] typed it, and it was published in their fifty-four languages.
But then I talked to them about literacy. The benefits are not what you think
they might be, I said. I was proved right! Now the Russians want only potboilers.
But I made them laugh. Then I was assailed by a Russian who knew I had published a
dissident. Arthur had translated him [Yuli Daniel, PRISON POEMS],
but I had no political agenda and I wouldnt engage them on political grounds. Then
they tried to get me on my husbands translations: Montale, Éluard.... All the
others there knew what I was doing, and enjoyed it. They knew I wasnt going to get
caught out. And so, for two days we had a fine time, because we laughed. It didnt
last, of course, but my team saw how an atmosphere could be changed.
When we got back, they all had their limousines waiting for them. I had a husband
waiting. (Great laugh.)
After the trip to Russia, the club secretary asked me to join. I was treated as their
mascot. And I enjoyed it enormously. Some outsider actually found out about it and wrote
articles. He called me; he said, I found your name on the list of members. I
said: There isnt a list of members, surely! It was a secret; so,
somebody must have betrayed us. He said, Anyway, you are a member of this
club? And I said: Yes; of course. He said, What are you doing
there? Is it for price-fixing? Whats the use of this club? I said: It is
a social club!
McNAMARA (laughing): What did you observe in this club?
BOYARS: Well, it was very interesting, because although you were
supposed to be among a group of people who were not going to tittle-tattle --
because that was the only rule: you didnt tittle-tattle -- and Im sure
they didnt: it was all about, oh, you know, talking about the currents of
publishing, and some commercial things about discounts to booksellers and chains, and
other kinds of stuff -- they were not entirely truthful! I said to one of them, What
kind of discount do you give Waterstones? Oh, nothing special.
Well, of course you do. Forty-five percent is what you give them. (Laughs.) Now, this is
very interesting. If they had been women, they would have said they give forty-five
percent. This not coming straight out: they were not frank....
Now, Carmen Calill, the founder of Virago, is an interesting woman, actually. She gets
what she wants, and she wants the right thing. Shes very good.
Shes rather out of it now (Virago has been sold to Little, Brown, which is
owned by Time-Warner Communications). But the only way Virago could continue was by
McNAMARA: Virago was a wonderful imprint.
BOYARS: Wonderful, a wonderful imprint. They went wrong when they
published people other than the classics.--
She used to be very nice when she first started and we had something in common. She was
very supportive. We used to say hello and were friendly.
I had a court case in America; somebody had cheated me. We won, in a sort of way; of
course the lawyers took all the money. But I had to make a deposition. They asked me all
sorts of questions which didnt apply to me, but applied to her. They thought I was
Carmen. I noticed it; and of course I could hardly contain myself with laughter. They
think one woman is like all others. (Laughs.) After the meeting I was laughing. One
of the lawyers noticed, and I said, Well, youre very funny. No,
no, he said, theres something specific youre laughing about.
Something specific? No. What? Oh come on, he said: you
dont want to tell me. I said: Nothing to tell. I wasnt going
But I mean....
McNAMARA: What did you mean when you said you were the publishing
BOYARS: Brave little publisher.
BOYARS: Im sure they didnt take me seriously, and
they kind of liked me. I made them feel liberal and generous. I had a sense of fun, and I
didnt take myself too seriously. Im small. I think that has something to do
with it. If I were taller, if I had a large face, they would have been intimidated.
I dont like this kind of role. Im quite serious. They found Carmen Calill
difficult, because she wasnt like a little pet.
McNAMARA: Youve lived in England since 1950.
BOYARS: Im actually an American, but I went to school in
Switzerland. I went to NYU, in New York; then, before graduation, I
came here to get married. And they started a university, called Keele, in the Midlands,
where I lived. So I went to Keele.
It was 1950, and there were as many undergraduates at that time
in the whole of England as there were at Columbia and NYU combined:
very elitist; and then they opened university education up, and now its wide-open.
But at that time, for a girl to get into university was still rare.
There was a wonderful man called Lord Lindsay of Birker, Alexander Lindsay. He was a
moral philosopher who taught at Balliol, and was made a peer. He was very, very socially
concerned -- he was Labour. He invented my university.
I lived in Shrewsbury, along the Welsh border. There was a university in Birmingham. I
had been at NYU already. I was too young to be a mature student, and
they didnt recognize my NYU credentials. And this college was
being started, and it was work I admired, and so I went along. Lord Lindsay was a very
open man. He had brought a new course to Oxford, PPE -- politics,
philosophy, economics, called Modern Greats, which I took at Keele. For me it
was absolutely wonderful, because it started with 150 students and 25 dons. You had the most personal education you could possible hope for;
I mean, not only the tutorial system, which they used to have and is now almost gone, but
you were with these people, you even had coffee with them. Lord Lindsay loved the
students, he liked to talk with them, very much, over coffee.
Keele was the first university founded after the war. He had great ideas. It actually
has a very good music department and a very good American literature department. His idea
was to create a campus that didnt exist at the time in England. He felt that English
education was too narrow. And so he invented the foundation course. During the first year,
it was a core-year course. You had lectures in every discipline: it made it possible for
you to switch over from an arts subject to a science subject, if you wanted to; even for
the degree course, the requirement was that you had to take at least one social science
and one hard science, so that even the people in literature would have to take, say, an
economics course. I took physics as a subsidiary, which was dubbed Physics for Fools. I
rather liked it: it didnt teach me much physics, but it taught me, and showed me,
how the scientific mind works. I was interested in methodology. I didnt know much
about real science, and so, this gave me an insight, a little insight; and that was his
idea, you know: to have a much broader education.
McNAMARA: That would have been a way of communicating between the
BOYARS: Thats right; Im sure [C.P.]
Snows book had something to do with it, too. Lord Lindsay thought that with all the
specialization there was, the scientists didnt understand the arts students, who
certainly didnt understand the sciences.
I actually lived outside my college. It was residential; and I was married and so
couldnt have a room; I boarded during the week. One of the professors gave me a
room. He was a professor of philosophy who was really more interested in poetry, and his
wife was a writer. We would spend our evenings reading poetry. I had a second education
living in that home.
And I had a car. I was the first student who was allowed to have a car, and it was
great fun. Its only 30 miles from Shrewsbury. I would drive
over at 80 miles an hour. I had an old Ford V-8
two-seater, and when you opened up the trunk there were two more uncomfortable seats in
there. And this was the fastest car on the road!
I was the only American, thats number one. Number two, I was the only one who
drove a car. And number three, I was the only one who was married.
McNAMARA: So you broke all the rules.
BOYARS: I broke every one of them. I had a very good time there.
But, when we got our degree, Lady Lindsay said: What are you going to do now
dear? She was like a little empress. I said: Have babies. Oh,
dear, she said. I said, Well, Im married. Well, thats
all right then.
So thats what I did: I had babies.
McNAMARA: And then you decided to be a publisher.
BOYARS: I graduated in 1954, and then Susan
was born in 1955, and the youngest one was born in 1957.
And then I went to London in 1960, with my two little girls, and
became a publisher.
McNAMARA: They really were little girls.
BOYARS: They were tots. It was a difficult life. My husband and I
got divorced in 1962; he remarried almost immediately, but died in 1969. I moved to London and brought up my children. Later, I met somebody
nice -- Arthur -- and we married in 1964.
In 1960, I went into a business that no woman had ever thought of
going into under her own steam. I was actually the first woman publisher who didnt
inherit her business or assume it by marriage. I mainly broke the rules because I
didnt know them.
Is There A Literary Culture? If So, What Does
It Look Like?
McNAMARA: What is a literary culture? Is there one? Are there
BOYARS: Undoubtedly, but its too difficult to define. I
mean, the non-literary culture couldnt exist without the literary culture. Everybody
knows about Marx and Freud, but you dont have to read them: theyre essential,
part of the lifeblood; but you dont have to be part of it. Language develops because
of literature. It doesnt develop because of television.
McNAMARA: That might be argued.
BOYARS: Yes: I know it can be argued; thats why I say it. I
dont think television has that much of an effect on culture, though it
is informative, while literature has a lot of effect. This is why, when people say
obscenity in literature doesnt do anything, I think theyre wrong.
Literature does something. I think obscenity and the forbidden, taboos, as
such, are not important in themselves; but they are necessary subjects. It is the art
that is made of them that refuses to allow us to remain complacent. These things make us
reach beyond ourselves, move, grow. They are very important. And through art, we can
actually do something positive. We become aware of life through it.
McNAMARA: Certainly, not all books are literature.
BOYARS: Certainly not.
McNAMARA: And much of what makes a literary culture--
BOYARS: --is language. It is the use of language, the ends to
which its put. Its how you put it on the page. People write to me and
they say, Ive written a novel about a such-and-such a subject. Im
not very interested in that. Id like to know how youve done it, what
youve done. Carlo Gebler, an Irish writer, has a new manuscript. Let me read you two
lines: My name is Douglas Peter; I am a Russian scholar. I am married to a Russian
woman, and have been for forty years. Im extremely miserable.
Wonderful. Its got everything there. And thats in the juxtaposition. You
could do the same thing in a newspaper report, but it wouldnt be the same. I think
this is what writing is.
Subsequently, she bought the book, entitled W9 AND OTHER LIVES; it
will be published early in 1998.
Of course its refined, of course its shaped: its actually a lot of
hard work. I know people who like to say that someday theyll be a writer. Maybe. You
need a lot of practice.
McNAMARA: A lot of practice, and stamina.
BOYARS: And you know, I just like it, I like books and ideas.
They have a habit of growing. There is a radio program: three people choose a book, often
an old one, and discuss why they like it. I think the one that I would choose, although I
havent read it in many years, is TO THE FINLAND STATION.
Its a beautiful book, I remember, but also it opened my eyes. Ive never been a
Marxist; and Ive studied political philosophy and economics, Ive had plenty of
opportunity to become a Marxist, but I never took to it. But he [Edmund Wilson] tells us
how it is possible to become a Marxist, and hes the only writer whos done
that. He opened my eyes when these things were very important, during the McCarthy era,
and so really one had to sit up and listen. And I rejected it. But this book was to show
me what was the attraction. And I must read it again.
McNAMARA: Are there books you think of as a, or the, foundation
of a literary life?
BOYARS: Well, yes; WAR AND PEACE is
certainly one of them. Platos REPUBLIC, Shakespeares
plays. World literature -- the Russians; Thomas Mann, Rilke. Poetry. French classics.
Updike, Joyce, Hemingway. There are so many books that have had an impact on me. --
Ive read all my life. A lot of things had to be crammed down my throat when I was
going through the educational process, but Im very grateful for it. I mean, music,
literature, poetry become just part of ones background.
McNAMARA: Do you think there was a time when the readership was
more secure than it is now?
BOYARS: No; no. Ill give you an example: George Gissing, THE PRIVATE PAPER S OF HENRY RYCROFT; wonderful book. When it was
published, in 1902, it sold sixteen copies.
McNAMARA: When Stendhals DE LAMOUR
appeared, it didnt sell. His publisher said to him: This book must be sacred,
because no one will touch it!
BOYARS: I dont think this age is any less intellectual than
any other age; nor do I think the sensibility of people is impaired. On the Continent,
people read more. In France and Germany, they think its part of their culture to
McNAMARA: Do they buy the books, as well?
BOYARS: Of course, because there its very important to do
it. You go into a German household and they have bookshelves. You go into an English
household and they do not have bookshelves.
My original question continued to disturb her. She thought her comments were
pointless, as no one could presume to define a literary culture.
She spoke about writers America has produced.
BOYARS: Think of Melville, for instance, and Henry James; think
of Bellow, and Updike. Innovative writers! Nowhere else could their novels have been
written, and they have influenced writers everywhere. Frederic Tuten, who thinks he is a
European in spirit, is not: hes very American. No European could do what he does.
This is where the literary language is developed: in America, with your wonderful mixture
of peoples and languages and different sorts of experience; more so than in England, where
were hide-bound by grammar and convention.
I pointed out that, although indeed we have good writers, much debate goes on in
this country about the non-literary, entertainment-ridden, consumerist popular culture
that is now, everywhere, called American.
BOYARS: All the Anglo-Saxon countries are unliterary, but they
produce remarkable writers. John Cage [EMPTY WORDS; SILENCE], after
all, was a remarkable writer, though he was a musician. There was Allen Ginsberg (d.
April 5, 1997); there were the Beats:
poets who were exceptional in their time. Perhaps the debate goes on because Americans,
unlike the English, have always been self-deprecating.
Obscenity and Taboo. A Book On Trial.
BOYARS: I think there are some really key books -- one I think is
a key book, not easy to read, is NAKED LUNCH, by William Burroughs (d.
August 2, 1997), although I didnt terribly like his later
work. Burroughs was published in England by John Calder and Marion Boyars. In 1963,
Arthur Boyars, who was a friend of John Calder, assembled a collection of Burroughs
writings for the Literary Annual published by the firm; Calder and Boyars published NAKED LUNCH the following year. At about that time, the firms name
was changed to reflect their joint ownership; Marion had married Arthur, a translator and
literary man informally associated with the firm, and preferred to use his name to her
fathers name and her previous husbands.
McNAMARA: You said that obscenity and taboo are important to
society, and that it is important for literature to break taboos.
BOYARS: I think every good artist breaks taboos. Because you have
to; you have to: because the writer shows us where we are.
McNAMARA: In America the taboos often center around what is
considered sex, or sexual representation.
BOYARS: Oh yes; its very puritanical, provincial. What can
McNAMARA: What significant taboos exist here, and dont
exist in America? Or, the other way around?
BOYARS: Well, English society is almost impossible to describe,
because the moment you understand it, it escapes. Now, the English are envious, and the
taboo breakers bring this out. Very interesting politics here. We had a Prime Minister
[John Major] who was a socialist under the Tory label, and we have(laughter) a Prime
Minister [Tony Blair] who is a Tory but under the label of socialism. Very interesting.
The Thatcher business was awful: what she did was awful, and it was awful how they
turned against her. She came from a different class, and was ambitious and made straight
for what she wanted. They hated her, because she was a woman, and because she broke all
the rules of the mens clubs and did things in a different way, and because she used
her handbag as a weapon. But, before she fell, they were all prostrating themselves. It
was disgusting. You attack authority at the time authority is in power; not when its
Youve heard about the Oz case, from Australia? One of those underground
magazines, put out by four young chaps. They commissioned some kids to do a kids Oz
issue. The kids broke every taboo, they had no respect for anybody. They had a Teddy Bear
who had an affair with another Teddy Bear. And they were taken to court over that.
McNAMARA: In this country?
BOYARS: Yes! It went on and on. I was there most of the time. It
was fascinating, of course. They got a highly respected social scientist, and they asked
him the serious question -- at the Old Bailey! -- Would you tell us about the
sex-life of Teddy Bears?
You wouldnt think that such stupidity can be committed by such sophisticated
people, but it can, and they do it. The 60s and 70s were of course the ground for breaking taboos.
McNAMARA: You were prosecuted for obscenity.
BOYARS: We [Calder & Boyars] had an exhausting court case, a
huge obscenity case brought against Hubert Selbys book LAST EXIT TO
BROOKLYN. It went first to Magistrates Court, then to the Old Bailey, then on
appeal. We won the appeal, in 1969, but we lost twice before that,
and we were, for a time, paralyzed.
But I didnt know we were going to win -- we could have been sent to prison. But
it wasnt we who were in the dock, it was the book. When they prosecuted, the book
was held up in the dock by a policeman. We were too well-behaved, we were Establishment
ourselves. We were not pornographers, we were very respectable publishers. If we had been
pornographers, we, not the book, would have been in the dock. Yet, we lost the first two
rounds; and the lawyers were against an appeal. The reason they gave us was, we had
suffered enough, they wanted to protect us from more heart-ache. But I think there were
several reasons. They just didnt approve of the book, really.
But I never considered not appealing. We behaved in a most elegant way: we withdrew the
book from sale; we made it known that we were not going to have the best-seller we could
have had. And they knew that. If we had not been, we would have been in danger of being
sent to prison. In fact, they gave us only a fine: £100 -- I mean,
no one gets fined £100; its nothing. We didnt pay the
fine and in fact, they paid for the appeal: if you win an appeal, they pay. So, I never
considered not appealing; but we did something that had never been done before: we
actually had our own transcript.
Just before the case started a salesman came to our office and wanted to sell me a tape
recorder; this was the 60s. I said, Hmm, not a bad idea,
can you sell me one that would tape in a large room? He said, How large?
Well, I said, Im not quite sure, Ive never been there
before. What do you mean, he said, you want a tape recorder, you
dont know how big the venue is? Is it a theater? No, its not a
theater. Well, I said, its the Old Bailey. Oh. So he
sold me a tape recorder. Then I rang my lawyer, and I asked him if we could bring it in,
and he said, I have to ask the Clerk of Court. He called me back and he said,
This is the first request ever; therefore, theres nothing against bringing it
in. And so we did. And my assistant and I: we didnt only spend nine days in
court, but nights, typing it up.
McNAMARA: Its a job.
BOYARS: Its a terrible job.
McNAMARA: You couldnt have gotten a transcript? There would
not have been an official transcript?
BOYARS: Yes, there is an official transcript; but it is not
verbatim. It is what the man who takes it down he thinks he has heard; and the lawyers do,
actually, the same. So, on the second day of the trial, when I came with my transcript and
said to the chief barrister, This is what happened yesterday, he said,
Well, I dont need to read this, I have my notes. I said, Yes, but
your notes are not really accurate. He was very angry with me. But: they actually
withheld the official transcript from us. You have to appeal within six weeks; and they
withheld it, they just didnt send it. We didnt need it, on the strength of our
own. We got rid of our lawyers, and I hired John Mortimer, the novelist and playwright,
who was a divorce lawyer and had never been concerned with this kind of thing. The first
thing I did was to play the tape for him for an hour or so; and from there he did
The transcript, our own, is now in our archives, at the Lilly Library in Ann Arbor, at
the University of Michigan.
During our second conversation, in April, in New York, she spoke by phone to Hubert
Selbys agent and, upon hanging up, said, pleased, Well, we have a new
Selby. She had just bought, in draft, his latest novel, to be called THE
WILLOW TREE. Its very good, she said, I read it, and my
editor read it. He wrote very long notes, almost a page-by-page analysis, to help with the
editing. And, in fact, the author is feeling very well. He is starting with those notes:
hes got wonderful editing notes. What a dream, I said, to
have editing notes. A dream to have that, agreed Marion Boyars.
And then he and Ken Hollings, my editor, will get together. The agent asked how long
would it take him -- six months, a year? No, he said, Ill do it
this summer. By the end of the summer youll have a manuscript.
(End of Part 1.)
/ Part 3 / Endnotes