The New York Times “Books” section featured a review of the life and work of Robert Gottlieb, the accomplished editor and publisher for 60 years at Simon & Schuster, Knopf and The New Yorker. His memoir “Avid Reader” was published this month.
The message that resonates from this narrative of interaction with loyal best-selling authors and writers, is the inestimable value of focused reading and attention to detail in the world of literature.
Gottlieb thrived in the realm of eloquence, finding a “cognitive music” in the structuring of sentences, paragraphs and edited manuscripts.
In the book, he discusses editing Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22“:
“I wasn’t experienced enough back then to realize how
rare his total lack of defensiveness was, particularly
since there was never a doubt in his mind of how
extraordinary his book was, and that we were making
literary history. Even when at the last minute, shortly
before we went to press, I told him I had always disliked
an entire phantasmagorical chapter—for me, it was a
bravura piece of writing that broke the book’s tone—and
wanted to drop it, he agreed without a moment’s hesitation.”