All rights reserved. Publishing February 5, It was an unseasonably cool June day, but I still felt a slow trickle of sweat slide its way down the left side of my body as I walked quickly up Fifth Avenue, weaving through tourists. Not only did this interview represent a chance to accelerate my career, but it was also strangely tied to my personal life, as the introduction had been made by Randall. If I won over Vivian, maybe she'd give me a great job offer and him a glowing report—a winning double punch. On the other hand, what if I really screwed it up?
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All rights reserved. Publishing February 5, It was an unseasonably cool June day, but I still felt a slow trickle of sweat slide its way down the left side of my body as I walked quickly up Fifth Avenue, weaving through tourists. Not only did this interview represent a chance to accelerate my career, but it was also strangely tied to my personal life, as the introduction had been made by Randall.
If I won over Vivian, maybe she'd give me a great job offer and him a glowing report—a winning double punch. On the other hand, what if I really screwed it up? Not only would I have squandered a potential opportunity, but I'd look like a loser with Randall. The pressure was palpable! Another trickle snaked its way down my right side. He looked up sharply when he heard Vivian's name and gave me a long once-over. The elevator was already crowded when I stepped inside, and I asked a man in suspenders and a bow tie standing next to the panel of buttons if he wouldn't mind hitting twelve for me.
This, for some reason, made everyone in the elevator pause in their conversations and look at me in a strange way. Was asking someone to hit the button for you considered to be a rude request? I made a mental note to be more self-sufficient on the elevator next time.
Could he tell that I was here for an interview? Another woman glanced at me and shook her head sadly. What did that mean? Very disconcerting. Was I trailing toilet paper? Was my skirt tucked into my underwear? I did a quick head-totoe check but couldn't find anything obviously amiss. He also looked as though he'd just woken up from a nap. One side of his hair was flat and pressed to his head, the other was fluffed up— like a mix between a Johnny Rotten and a down-covered baby chicken.
Milton didn't answer—instead, he opened the door of a conference room and gestured toward an empty seat. Can I get you some water or something? Before I had a chance to finish my sentence, Milton had lurched off down the hallway. The Grant Books conference room itself was pretty bland, except that the walls were covered with hardcover editions of the imprint's best-selling titles.
I scanned the display. Vivian had published some really great books—as well as some really lousy ones. The range was exceptional. A trashy tell-all written by a washed-up soap opera star who'd once had a steamy dalliance with the wife of a well-known European tycoon was perched next to a weighty tome about military operations in Iraq, penned by a top homeland security adviser.
A phenomenally successful diet book series—with glowing quotes from devotees such as Gwyneth Paltrow jumping out from the cover—shared a shelf with a whimsical, clever novel that had been adapted into a Broadway musical.
More chick lit than the eye could take in, all arrayed in a candy store collection of tangy pastels. Three award-winning cookbooks that Mara—who specialized in cookbooks—used as her model for design inspiration.
A series of quickie paperbacks written by reality show stars during their fifteen minutes of fame. Up on the walls were some fiercely polarized political books, too—there was oversize, frothing-at-themouth, mega-best-selling neoconservative Samuel Sloane at one end of the seesaw and a slew of die-hard liberals balancing him on the other side. The only common thread among the dozens of books on display was humongous sales numbers.
Vivian clearly had the Midas touch, no matter what kind of book she published. Angry voices suddenly clashed just feet away from the conference room. I sat forward and strained to hear, but all I could catch was "a fucking baboon, you know that? It was unnerving, hearing that kind of unmitigated rage within the confines of an office, and my whole body tensed when the conference room door swung open abruptly.
In swept a beautiful woman, calm and composed, a dead ringer for Isabella Rossellini but with strawberry blond hair and green, almond-shaped eyes.
This was Vivian Grant? In all I'd heard about Vivian, nobody had done justice to how movie-star gorgeous she was. She looked much younger than her fifty years. With her hair pulled back into a loose bun, her skin a perfect alabaster, she was stunning. Vivian Grant settled into a chair at the head of the conference table.
It was as if we were two girlfriends out for a relaxed Sunday brunch. Right, waiting to get to a certain place in their careers. One of my editors must be, like, thirty-six? She's married, but waiting for God knows what. I don't know what she's thinking. I tell her all the time to get on the program! If I'd taken that approach, I wouldn't have my sons. Women are supposed to get pregnant in their early teens, you know.
We make such a big fucking deal about preventing teenage pregnancy, but that's what nature intended. Girls are really supposed to get knocked-up at thirteen. Marcus is twenty-six and gorgeous. How old are you? You should meet him. Oh, right, but you're with Randall. Are you with Randall? I used to doink Randall's father, you know.
That's how Randall and I first met. I strolled out of his parents' bedroom one morning wearing nothing but his father's button-down and a smile, and there was little Randall, eating his Lucky Charms with the nanny. Anyway, inseminator number one, my son Marcus's father, was this super hot one-night stand I had in the seventies. And my son Simon's twelve. Inseminator number two was a perverted fuck-all whom I made the grave mistake of marrying. He kept me in litigation for years.
But my kids turned out great, really great. God knows how. I was starting my imprint when Simon was born. I'll never forget it. Thank God I remembered that I had a C-section scheduled in an hour! Even back then my assistants couldn't organize my schedule for shit. Morphine shmorphine. It never slowed me down, honey. Back to work! I didn't have a single diaper, I didn't have a crib. Simon slept in a duffel bag for the first four months of his life.
I felt as if I'd just fallen down a rabbit hole. The little monologue I'd rehearsed on the walk over—about why I loved book publishing, what I'd learned in the past five years, why I'd be excited to work for someone like Vivian—now seemed too young, dull, naive, and … well, a little too sane for the conversation we were having.
Thankfully, it didn't seem that I was expected to talk during the interview. Vivian forged ahead. What do you think of the place? I paused. I could sense that Vivian wanted me to rip my current employer to shreds, that this would somehow make her feel I was on her wavelength, but I couldn't lie.
Not to mention, based on the first five minutes of our interview, I was pretty sure I didn't want the job. And the people are—". I hated it there. I was sexually harassed by not one— not two—but four of my colleagues. I'd walk into work every morning expecting a gang bang. You know what I mean? It's a fucked-up place. And they don't understand the new direction of book publishing.
They're still selling to the baby boomers, still publishing the same old books. I had no idea which part of her monologue I should respond to—or how. Had she actually been harassed by that many people? I couldn't imagine who—.
Because She Can
I read this book on a recommendation, and enjoyed it though not as much as I had hoped to before reading. Enjoyable satire on the publishing world. However, a little too fluffy and unrealistic. Despite complaining about her tyranical boss at every turn, it seemed like everything fell into the Claire's lap Because She Can. Bridie Clark.
In the bestselling tradition of The Devil Wears Prada , this witty and revealing novel celebrates a woman's dream job in book publishing - until she realises she's working for the industry's tyrant. Claire Truman has spent six years at a top publishing house patiently waiting to be promoted to editor and stretching her ridiculously small salary as far as it will go. But her life is about to miraculously change. Fresh from an ugly break-up, she is dragged by her best friend to an art gallery opening where she bumps into the man she lusted after all through college: Randall Cox, a man with friends in high places. When the top editor at a rival publishing house calls her the next morning, Claire suddenly finds herself with a new job worth three times her old salary.