By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In “Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux” (Simon & Schuster; Hardcover; Aug. 6, 2013) – which Junot Diaz has aptly referred to as “Mad Men for the literary world” – Brooklyn-based New York magazine editor Boris Kachka delivers a fascinating portrayal of one of the most prestigious book publishing houses. Replete with juicy gossip and accounts of the numerous legendary figures who contributed to FSG’s success, Kachka draws on extensive research and interviews to offer readers a mesmerizing portrait of the institution.
The author will appear in Brooklyn to launch his book at BookCourt this Saturday, Aug. 3.
Kachka traces FSG’s origins through founder-owner Roger Straus and editor Robert Giroux. Though drastically different – Straus known for his charm and vulgarity and Giroux for his reticence – the two men worked together to form what would become a prominent player in postwar America.
Beginning at the end, describing the 2008 funeral of Giroux (who had eulogized Straus in 2004), Kachka deftly illustrates the forces behind FSG. Particularly remarkable is Kachka’s portrayal of Straus, whose commanding demeanor invited a love-hate relationship with many others in the literary community. Straus fought wholeheartedly for his business, books and authors – some of whom, including Susan Sontag, Joseph Brodsky and Tom Wolfe, were his closest friends.
Filled with photos and in-depth accounts of FSG’s main players, “Hothouse” not only reveals the powerful intersection of business, culture and literature, but also brings to life the eclectic group of people that contributed to one of the most vibrant intellectual institutions of the American Century.
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The Aug. 3 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court St. in Cobble Hill.
Boris Kachka is a contributing editor for New York magazine, where he has written and edited pieces on literature, publishing, and theater for more than a decade.