Monday, May 21, 2012

Give Dell's editors some credit

My favorite mystery writer is Lawrence Block. This morning, as I was finishing reading his collection of short stories about unlicensed private detective Matt Scudder, The Night and the Music, I came across a passage in Block's afterword in the book that's of direct interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans.

Block explains that when he came up with the idea for the Scudder books, his agent made a deal with Dell, and the first three Scudder books came out in the early 1970s, beginning with The Sins of the Fathers in 1976.

He writes, "Paperback distribution in general was problematic during those years, and Dell's troubles were greater than most; they returned much of their manuscript inventory, paid for but unpublished, to authors and agents, and but for the personal enthusiasm of editor Bill Grose, Scudder might never have seen print."

Dell, of course, was the publisher that brought out ILLUMINATUS! in 1975  which launched the writing careers of Wilson and Robert Shea, and as it is a rather long, unusual book, it probably only wound up in print because of the personal enthusiasm of its editors. I have so far not been able to track down who the Dell editor was who bought it, but I do know that editors Fred Feldman and David M. Harris pushed it into publication.

I haven't published my interview with Feldman yet, but my interview with Harris is here.

Footnote: The Sins of the Fathers is available for 99 cents for Kindle; I believe that sale will expire very soon. Block attended Antioch College in Ohio.

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