Tom Engelhardt, Author . Univ. of Massachusetts $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-55849-402-2

A former editor at Pantheon Books, Englehardt (The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation) has penned an opinionated, nostalgic novel about the trials of a seasoned book editor in the information age. Rick Koppes, a literary purist, former commune resident and anti–Vietnam War activist, works at highbrow Byzantium Press. His publishing house has been taken over by German magnate Bruno Hindemann's Multimedia Entertainment, where executive David Marsden, many years his junior, hopes to capitalize on Koppes's lone bestselling author with videos and merchandise ("We want to brand him awesomely"). Koppes's ex-wife, a treacherously bottom-line–minded publishing exec, becomes his boss. He meets his old friend, Larry, a fellow longtime editor, for lunch and learns that Larry has been fired for not bringing in enough money. In his agitated state, Larry berates the waiter at their Vietnamese restaurant, while Koppes wonders silently whether the waiter had been tortured by American soldiers during the war. Woven through these apocalyptic snapshots are laments about the ramifications of electronic publishing and the decline of the reading public. The novel will likely try the patience of any reader not wholly fascinated with the publishing industry; though there are some emotionally vivid passages, the book often gets bogged down in descriptions of the minutiae of the business. Engelhardt seems primarily to be addressing his colleagues, but even those inclined to agree with his view may find his hero self-righteous and unsympathetic. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Paperback - 215 pages - 978-1-55849-506-7
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!