The Last Days of Publishing by Tom Engelhardt
A Novel

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Pompeii never had it so bad. Rick Koppes knows a world is ending. The only question is, will he end with it? An editor at Byzantium Press for the last quarter century, he has watched his small, classy publishing house get gobbled up, first by an American publishing giant and then by Multimedia Entertainment, the Hollywood wing of Bruno Hindemann's German media empire. His editing colleagues are being downsized, his authors axed, and in a world where the cultural wallpaper is screaming, he himself hangs on by a fingernail—the latest work of his sole best-selling author, pop psychologist Walter Groth, is racing off bookstore shelves. And that's just where his problems begin—after all, Multimedia is about to make his ex-wife, a publishing executive at another house, his boss, his assistant wants his authors, and a woman who claims her father dropped the bomb on Nagasaki insists he publish her woeful memoir.

Koppes, who came of age in the sixties, is an editor slowly running off the rails. In the six episodes of "The Last Days of Publishing," he refights the Vietnam War in a Chinese restaurant, discovers that the paleontological is political in a natural history museum, mixes it up with a flamboyant literary agent who went underground decades earlier, and encounters a hippie cultural oligarch on the forty-fifth floor of Multimedia's transnational entertainment headquarters.

Tom Engelhardt, himself a publishing veteran, has produced a tumultuous vision of the new world in which the word finds itself hustling for a living. By turns hilarious, sardonic, and poignant, his novel deftly captures the ways in which publishing, which has long put our world between covers but has seldom been memorialized in fiction, is being transformed.


About Tom Engelhardt

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Tom Engelhardt created and runs the website, a project of The Nation Institute, where he is a Fellow. He is theauthor of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the ColdWar, The End of Victory Culture. Each spring he is a TeachingFellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University ofCalifornia, Berkeley. He lives in New York City.
Published June 1, 2003 by Univ of Massachusetts Pr. 215 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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For Koppes—aged 56, cultivated, sensitive, thoughtful—this beginning of the end of life as he’s known it contains also an unusual personal element: namely, that his own ex-wife of 20 years, Connie Burian, is one of the new firm’s top people and sees the future of the book in far, far different wa...

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Publishers Weekly

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A former editor at Pantheon Books, Englehardt (The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation) has penned an opinionated, nostalgic novel about the trials of a seasoned book editor in the information age.

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