21 August 2005

nice ears, Garvice

As I mentioned, briefly, several misbegotten posts back, I am now gainfully employed by a certain publishing house in New York City. Solicitously, I neglected to inform those who sanctioned my employment that a previous girlfriend of mine had served as an editorial assistant (verily, dear reader, my own role heretofore) several years ago. She left before the completion of a year, having discovered that she wasn't cut out for either the pay or the work, and jaunted off to bonny Albion in search of other satisfactions (she found a fine new girlfriend there, older, and a corporate lawyer, whose lifestyle if not her vacation time suited her ideal). I have since discovered from coworkers that the editor my girlfriend worked under was less than comfortable or productive in the house, spiritedly unhappy, and was soon "asked to leave," as no one there is ever actually "fired."

So, indeed, I entered this job with some awareness of her discontent, and have been happy to discover that my own experience so far has been thoroughly endurable.

I work for two editors. The first, older and a VP, who I'll call Clara, has been granted by many at the company the epithet of sweet Jewish mother, known for leaving treats and other signals of goodwill on the desks of those with whom she works. My predecessor arrived on her penultimate day of work to discover a deep purple orchid, well in bloom, wedged between her/our keyboard and monitor. Clara is in charge of the paperbacks published by the company as well as the "classics," works from the backlist either out of print or deserving of more attention, which are reissued with fresh introductions written by the contemporarily hot-to-trot. She worked formerly for Vintage Contemporaries (an imprint whose fiction I read more than any other) and is so pragmatic as to be self-effacing (at a recent editorial meeting, in which all of the editors sit at table in the Publisher's office and the editorial assistants drag in folding chairs and desperately strain to hear the meeting's whispered proceedings in the offing, Clara took a spot on the windowsill, recognizing the lack of seats for everyone). She is difficult to read but extremely even-tempered, and asks about the amount of sleep I've been getting or whether I've eaten a sufficient amount on the day of her questioning. She even told me, last week, that she was glad that I was leaving work at 5:30pm on one particular day, in order to attend a party, and said that I'd been staying too late.

This would be the time to mention that it is customary for those employed by this fine if somewhat patriarchal institution to arrive at eight in the morning and depart well after six. Overtime, my dears, is undocumented but paid in free books. The nature of the work is such that it is often easier to stay late in order to complete the tasks one has begun than to leave them for the next day, that next day being a day which may present a climate more hostile to their completion, given additional sundry tasks, duties, obligations, and caterwauling authors.

The second editor I work with, I'll call her Lise, lives in an office just across the hall from mine. She has, as my ladyfriend has stated, an early nineties haircut and dye-job: blunt horizontal bangs and just shoulder length hair, with the bangs and bits of the face-bordering fringe bleached a brassy blonde. The effect is severe and cute, simultaneously, admirably so. She often wears necklaces that declare her outdoorsyness (in certain genres of sci-fi or romance fiction the "amulets" would be described as being affixed to her neck by leather "thongs") and polyester dresses too garishly printed not to be vintage. Lise is my height if not a bit shorter, and I made the mistake this past week at marveling at how tall I felt in her presence (more often than not she wears flipflops to work), I perched in my misguided and uncomfortable heels. She chuckled, but I could tell it was more courtesy than genuine entertainment.

One positive interaction led to our agreement that my ladyfriend is, indeed, totally hottt. As Lise is the editor of the author who I worked for this summer, she had seen said author's documentary about abortion, which includes (features) my ladyfriend and her story. This was the best part: Lise is standing in my doorway, I'm seated at my desk, and another editorial assistant is standing to my right. Lise says, "Yeah, when [your ladyfriend] came on the screen, George [her partner] and I were like, Whoa, she's totally cute. And then after the screening was over, [your ladyfriend] gets up to answer some questions and we were like, Whoa, she's even hotter in person." There's just nothing like bonding with your boss about how fucking attractive your girlfriend is, seriously.

Lise edits the imprint that primarily publishes plays, books on film, pop-cultural histoires and analyses, in addition to some fiction under the flagship imprint. Lise is stern, deep-voiced and dark-eyed, and when she laughs I feel compelled to describe her as a jock. She demonstrates the necessary patience and acute performances of drama in order to elicit action or simply text from her authors, often playwrights and filmmakers who are distant in either mind or body. She has frequently lectured me on the absolute necessity of maintaining absolute discretion when dealing with their contact information (the address of a famous person in the wrong hands can very well necessitate said famous person's migration to an esoteric state) and has given me scores of proof that when it comes to dealing with people in Hollywood, it's best to pretend that everything is happening right now and you need to get me this right now and why isn't it here yet goddammit? I'm pretty sure I don't yet have the license to play the "goddammit" card as of the present moment, but I'm sure it will come, jutting out of the deck like a green light, a premonition of some new and aggressive personality that I do not yet fully possess.

All said, I'm grateful to be working for two women. Face it, people: I'm much more likely to earn trust and give my trust to women; though there are plenty of good examples of fine menfolk in my life who I admire and trust, many of you are reading this, it sure does take a while. More detailed descriptions of my duties to follow, if they be desired.

I remain, yours, in absolute frisson in the face of the inequities and idiosyncrasies of publishing, theories about which I'm sure to develop in the foreseeable interim.



Blogger good golly said...


22 August, 2005 04:11  
Blogger Who's the dourest of them all? said...

While I can hardly consider this post "satirical," I see your point. I hoped that I had sufficient buried any determining characteristics. (I even broke the initial link to the company!)

Warning acknowledged.

22 August, 2005 10:49  
Anonymous K G D said...

There are a lot of your "Clara" types up here at Bread Loaf. Their asses are well kissed, even by big shot lips.

(Hmm, that almost sounds like a limmerick, maybe a ballad stanza...yo ho)

22 August, 2005 20:09  
Blogger Lesblogs said...

jeez, i'm just thinking, how completely cosmopolit -- publishing in NYC.

guess that degree is good for something...

enjoying the blog. :)

25 August, 2005 15:45  
Blogger good golly said...

BLOG god damn it.


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