Commonplace

“Like all legends, the glamour of publishing that we read about in Mary McCarthy’s Intellectual Memoirs or Mary Cantwell’s Manhattan, When I Was Young is likely to be shattered somewhere around the first anniversary of assistantship. Though our heroines were no doubt just as burdened by this age-old indentured servitude as we are, there’s something in the retelling, in the breezy we-can-laugh-about-it-now quality of such memoirs that today’s editorial slaves find confusing. It’s as if a sepia tint has been imposed onto a thoroughly fluorescent-lit world. Unlike our predecessors, we find ourselves spending considerably more lunch hours waiting in line at Ess-A-Bagel than sitting at the counter at the Oyster Bar. We realize that we’re spending a significant amount of office time changing the fax paper, chasing down botched contracts, and writing flap copy for Thin Thighs in Three Seconds rather than inhabiting a publishing world like the one Dan Wakefield evoked in his memoir New York in the Fifties, where ‘the booze ran freely and the talk was always funny, sharp, knowing, dealing with what we cared about most—books, magazines, stories, the words and the people who wrote them.’”

—Meghan Daum, “Publishing and Other Near-Death Experiences,” My Misspent Youth

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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