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Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
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Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  332 ratings  ·  89 reviews
'Mad Men for the literary world' - Junot Diaz

Farrar, Straus and Giroux is arguably the most influential publishing house of the modern era. Home to an unrivaled twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and generation-defining authors like T. S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen, it’s a cultural inst
ebook, 448 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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In spring 1968 I looked for a summer job at a publishing house in New York City. I was an English major...I found a job at Farrar Straus and Giroux. While the summer confirmed that the NYC publishing world was not for me, it was nonetheless an amazing experience to see people like Susan Sontag come in the door. This book is a fun read for me from that vantage point, and an extended swim in the waters of the Mad Men-like environment of a remarkable company that shaped much of The literary scene o ...more
Gary Landry
From start to finish, "Hothouse" is a fun, engaging, almost mesmerizing read. This book is part history, part Toto pulling back the curtain on the inner workings of an esteemed publishing house, part "The Devil Wears Prada" grafted onto the New York publishing scene, and part New Orleans style jazz funeral for that once independent house of legends and lovers of the written word.

With the corporatization and hyper-commercialization of the New York publishers that began in earnest a quarter of a
Interested in publishing? Want an insiders take on one of the grandest American publishing houses? Looking for a gossipy rag to read on a sunny beach? Then look no further than Boris Kachka’s Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art and America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Though the extraordinarily long subtitle is somewhat off-putting, the breezy, glib narrative sets the perfect tone for a sunny afternoon of wandering attention, alcoholic digres ...more
Patti Henger
This is one of my first book reviews for my Booktube channel Ismellbooks. My web address is for any brave souls who want to check it out. I am not doing much promotion as my editing needs work and I still feel a bit awkward in front of the camera...but I feel comfortable telling all my bookish friends because I believe you guys can look past all that! If any of you all have a channel please let me know, I'd love to take a look. Also, for any Booktopians ...more

Catnip for book lovers. And Mad Men of the publishing world, yes, certainly, but I as I note below, I think the Mad Men had considerably more reticence than this randy group. A remarkable story: both a review of the life and times of Roger Straus and a history of his publishing house. Kachka relates in clear and entertaining prose the rise and struggles of FSG, covering the story from the beginning right up through the books published last fall. The sale to Holzbrink is discussed, along the with
This is a weak four star. I enjoyed the history of the fabled publishing house, which developed from a struggling small firm to a proud powerhouse of famous, award winning authors. The success can be attributed to the larger-than-life Roger Straus, who, despite as irascible and somewhat coarse personality, had an uncanny knack for finding and developing talented authors, as well as editors. The book jumps about a bit (it could use a bit of editing) and gives editor Robert Giroux somewhat short s ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Trent added it
I loved this, but if you don't work in publishing, it may be too much "inside baseball."
Still, if this review makes you want to buy this book, please do so at your local independent bookseller
I don't know that I can say quite why, but I found this history of the estimable publishing house Farrar Straus & Giroux simply gripping reading. Perhaps because it is a densely packed account of literary culture in the United States (primarily) from, roughly, the post-WWII era until almost yesterday. The main character, the mover and shaker of FSG, Roger Straus, Jr., is an alternately fascinating and repellant character. Then there are anecdotes about the authors published by FSG: T.S. Elio ...more
Oct 02, 2013 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Enh. I mean, it's well done. It's "exhaustively researched," though this is like saying it uses a lot of verbs, or prepositions, or punctuation marks. The problem is, a publishing house doesn't really have the through story that a biography focusing on a single figure would. Hothouse is billed as a biography, and it reads like one, but there are just too many characters to keep things interesting. There are more names in this thing than in a phone book, and, while this is mostly my fault for not ...more
Peter Knox
I've spent my entire professional career in publishing and have loved these FSB books my entire life. I know some of these characters and I feel like I know these types of characters today.
So reading this was a complete thrill only dulled by the author's tendency to spend too long on boring parts and not long enough on compelling parts.
But for someone that would spend hours reading trivia on a book-version of IMDB if it existed, you get some fascinating deep dives into how publishing works at
Reading a history of a business is often like trying to find the beginning of a circle. They never rise from a vacuum; instead, they are a product of a confluence of factors and people you probably have never heard of. Hothouse is no exception. Luckily, Roger Straus was such a magnetic personality and such an important player in 20th century publishing that as long as you pay attention to what was going on with him you're in good hands. Eventually, the pieces start to fit together.

What I liked
I received my copy through Goodreads First Reads.
I would highly suggest this to anyone in the business of publishing, editing, or writing. Even those not in the business will find an engaging and compelling narrative of FSG.
Hothouse provides a surprisingly entertaining account of FSG's history. The characters, especially Roger Straus, are what keep Katchka's narrative interesting. Straus is portrayed as a larger than life character that becomes the driving force behind the publishing company. Hi
First Second Books
You guys: it turns out that FSG’s publishing history is totally crazy.

How crazy?

You can’t get fifty pages of this book (which is, I should be clear, a nonfiction account of FSG’s publishing history) without running into government agents spying on the Nazis disguised as literary scouts.

(I think we can all agree that that’s crazy.)
This isn't a bad book. It is clearly exhaustively researched and contains some good and interesting information. But getting through the entire volume is an exhausting slog. It is not entirely the author's fault. The book covers many decades and hundreds of people. After a while, the endless litany of personalities and unconnected anecdotes blur together until a reader ceases caring. I read the book cover to cover, as I always do when reading. But perhaps this book would be more interesting if a ...more
Ryan Williams
This wan't quite the book I was hoping for.

Juniot Diaz puffed the book as the literary world's answer to Mad Men. It purports to tell, from an insider's perspective, the tale of a legendary publishing house - one that seems to have published more Nobel winners than any other in America, as well as writers as diverse and talented as John McPhee, Joan Didion and Jonathan Franzen.

(Pardon the name dropping, but objecting to this in a memoir of this kind is like wagging your finger at the sea for be
John Frazier
Apart from being a fascinating and well-researched look into the publishing house of Farrar, Straus and Girous, "Hothouse" is an equally informative and engaging look into the publishing business itself. And how each has left its imprint on the other for about seven decades now.

What's more, it delineates the architecture, infrastructure and machinations of the publishing industry in ways provocative, enlightening and revealing. While I consider myself to be a steady if not avid reader, I learned
if possible I'd give it 2.6 stars. Kind of funny at times. Focused mostly on Roger Straus. Makes the general point that publishing used to be more about what the top editors thought was great (in addition to commercial considerations) than might be the case today.

Gossipy (Straus apparently slept with some of the authors and lots of FSG employees; and as you may have heard lots of writers drink too much) but whether in an interesting way may depend on your reading background and interests. I hav
Courtney Brown
Like reading someone else's yearbook.

I finished (mostly because I had to for book club, and if there's anything earning an English degree taught me, it's how to read books I don't like), and bits of it were interesting, but I wish it had been a more accessible story for those of us not in the book industry and less a Leviticus-esque listing of names: author, editor, publisher, repeat.

On the plus side, it certainly reaffirms my view that publishing is not for me.
I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.

Hothouse is a hybrid of sorts - a history of both a publishing house and the publishing industry, combined with a biography of Roger Straus Jr, the force behind Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. I don't give a lot of thought to the publishers of the books I buy and didn't really realize that FSG was a renowned publisher of literary fiction. Since reading this book, though, I've looked at my shelves and found lots of FSG authors. Boris Kachka's boo
Brandon Cahall
not as interesting as I'd thought...TNY article run this week summed up the parts worth reading. ..perhaps publishing industry insiders would find it less tedious.
I stumbled across this, noticing the Junot Diaz blurb that calls it "a Mad Men for the literary world"--an accurate description. I confess that I'd always thought of FSG as just another large publishing house--had never noted the difference between FSG's list and other large publishers--had never realized that FSG was *not* a large publisher, the way I'm aware of big differences between presses that mostly publish poetry and the writers on their lists. Hothouse was an education for me; I enjoyed ...more
"Both the art and the craft of bookmaking seem to be under grave threat."
"'Wouldn’t publishing be wonderful without all those wretched authors,'"

This is a great read for publishing folks and readers interested in the behind the scenes. Hothouse is rather long but has great detail on the creation of FSG, past and present. It was great to see familiar names of great publishing people I have worked alongside at Houghton Mifflin Company. There are certainly publishing growing pains today that are
Hothouse provides an insider’s glimpse into the publishing world, following independent publishing house Farrar, Straus, & Giroux from its inception to the present-day. Focusing largely on Roger Straus and his role, it is the tale of a literary Mad Men, full of gossip, sex, betrayal, maneuvering, schmoozing, smoking and drinking. And then there is Giroux, quiet, head-down, working to get things done. Two opposites that created one of the most celebrated and successful independent publishers. ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Sep 04, 2013 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as maybe-read-sometime  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: GR August 2013 newsletter
I was intensely curious because in my mind, FSG is the house that took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time when no other publishing company wanted to. I thought it might be interesting. But then I started reading this and decided that nah, I think this is a case where I don't want to see how the sausage gets made.

I did flip through the index and looked up the bits about names I recognized — Madeleine L'Engle, Maurice Sendak, Diane Arbus, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Roberts Rinehart. Nothing earthshaking,
After reading The Silkworm, I thought it would be fun to read a non-fiction account of some of the drama in the publishing world, or at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Unfortunately, I just found this to be super dry -- it just didn't pull me in at all. On the other hand, the discussion of some of FSG's past successes brought to light books that I'd forgotten about that I'd like to read.
It is a rare publishing book that goes beyond the gossip and stories of editors to give the nitty gritty details of the publishing world, but Hothouse walks the line of NY publishing gossip and a fascination with minutia. There's even talk of advances for titles and marketing budgets. An interesting read for anyone longing for old New York and the days of personality-driven publishing houses.
Interesting seeing how the literary sausage was made and in some cases unmade. Proof yet again that a person can be irreplaceable and still an expendable institution as time marches on. Great read for those who love books (to be clear: literature), human psychology and org studies - or even one of those things to the exclusion of the other two. Only 345 pages, but it's heavy from all the titan-level names contained.
Monica Nolan
Oh for the days when publishers funded novelists for years as they worked on their masterpieces, shepherding them in and out of Payne-Whitney, and taking care of the mundane details of their lives. Except if I was a woman back then I'd be the secretary, the cheated-on wife, or one of the nameless rolls in the hay. Unless I was Susan Sontag or Flannery O'Connor.
This book could have been better. It would have helped so much had Kachka provided more context for American publishing -- how it developed, how it compares to the enterprise in other places, what role FSG played within that industry and that history. Instead the author almost erects barriers to readerengagement -- the first 100 or so pages are name-choked thickets. Once I got past that, however, I had to stay with it, and having done so, I gained insight into what this business has been about.
Chris Aylott
If you're not fascinated by the inner workings of the publishing business, then this book is probably not for you. Fortunately for me, I am. Kachka provides a detailed history of one of New York's most distinctive publishing houses, mostly by following the life of co-founder Roger Straus, who might as well have been the Roger Sterling character in Mad Men.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux was full of skulduggery, betrayal, and lust, and that's before the house's many authors got into the act. It also d
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