A rollicking, incredibly juicy account of the book publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux—a cultural institution and arguably the most influential publisher of the postwar era—and the many colorful, iconic authors whose careers it has fostered.
FSG is home to more Nobel Prize-winning writers than any other publishing house in the world, its influence rivaling that of storied American literary institutions like the The New Yorker and The New York Times. Among its roster of generation-defining authors are T. S. Eliot, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, and Jonathan Franzen.
Boris Kachka deftly reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the black sheep of his powerful German-Jewish family—with his bottomless reserve of ascots, charm, and vulgarity—and his complete opposite, the reticent editor Robert Giroux, who rose from blue-collar New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who defined and shaped postwar American culture.
Both loved and despised in the literary community, Straus ventured fearlessly, often recklessly, into combat for his books, his authors, and his often-struggling company. He turned a philosophical disagreement with Simon & Schuster head Dick Snyder into a mano a mano media war for the very soul of publishing. Like a modern Daniel in a den of lions, he fought off would-be buyers, covetous literary agents, and even his own son and would-be successor, who was no match for a man who had to win at any cost.
Full of gossip and keen insight, Hothouse is the product of more than five years of research and nearly two hundred interviews, unearthing an essential story for the first time. Bringing to life the tumultuous pageant of postwar cultural life, it illustrates not only the lesson of a great publishing house—that in business as in literature, culture matters above all—but also the vital intellectual hub of the American Century.
“Hothouse is a wonderful book—a sharp look at the backstory of a famous publishing house and the flamboyant man who got as much attention as the writers he usually got cheap. Bravo!”