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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

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  466 ratings  ·  111 reviews
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 institution whose importance approaches that of The New Yorker or The ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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 ·  466 ratings  ·  111 reviews


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Marjorie
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Bill
Excellent history of the publishing firm Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. Along with Knopf, they are the two American publishing houses most synonymous with publishing good books, whether fiction or non-fiction. I have very rarely been let down in reading any book with their imprint on it.

FS&G were home to an unrivaled 25 Nobel Literature prize winners. Quite an achievement. Their list of authors is a virtual who's who of great writers

All in all, it's a very entertaining and interesting book. What goes
...more
Nooilforpacifists
Jan 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit-reading
"And then this happened; then that happened. She slept with him; he then slept with that other guy. Later, this book sold; this didn't; this other one went to a different publisher. Plus the company changed its name--again."

Yawn. Relentlessly chronological; incredibly boring. I made it less than half way through before confining it to the rubbish bin.
Veronica
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 digression ...more
Hank Stuever
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dishy, well-reported, well-organized. But you have to come to it with a ready-made interest in the behind-the-scenes world of New York book publishing before, during and well after the "Mad Men" years. I find publishing fascinating (having been published); outside of Manhattan, I'm not sure you could convince anyone that they need to read this. Still, though, it was a satisfying read.
Gary Landry
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Mark
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
...more
Paul
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Patti
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
This is one of my first book reviews for my Booktube channel Ismellbooks. My web address is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDv6... 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
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.)
Trent
Jul 27, 2013 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
Dan
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Carole
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Edward
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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. Eliot, F ...more
Ryan
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Cynthia
Sep 25, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Courtney Brown
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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.
Barbara
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked it alot. It's gossipy enough and does give you an enough info about publishing, though I kinda wonder whether it would work now and it comes out of much money. My favorite part is when one of the editors is reading through a slush pile and comes across Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and it sticks in her head. It definitely helps if I have read the author or book they are talking about. Would recommend to people interested in publishing.
John
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, publishing
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.
Jason Diamond
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Been working on a piece that deals with the publishing history and I picked this up for research purposes. The only problem was that I couldn't put it down and it derailed my work. It's a fascinating and fun book, maybe one of the best on the publishing industry I've ever read.
LDB
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I see a book published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux I tend to have an automatic reaction that the book is of good literary quality and one that would merit reading. I don't think I have been let down by any FSG books I have read yet. I enjoyed this look into the start and evolution of FSG as well as a tour through the many authors they have supported and published (as well as the ones they missed) and the ways in which they built relationships with their authors. It has made me want to go b ...more
Arik Hardin
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such an interesting book. I might be a bit biased, because I am obsessed with reading books about the publishing industry, but the story of FSG's founding is endlessly fascinating, and I had such a great time learning about it. The comparison of FSG's working environment to Mad Men is very apt (I never imagined that publishing was such a sex-craved industry back in the day), and reading the stories of so many genius authors was a total joy. If you love the publishing industry, this might be the ...more
Beverly Hollandbeck
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This was slow reading, but I think my expectations of the story were not realistic. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux is the most prestigious publisher of literary authors in the United States, and I guess I was expecting more lowdown about the authors and not as much about the publishers. This book is mostly about publisher Roger Straus.
KathleenB
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
This could have been interesting, given the reputation of the publishing house and some of the characters it represented. Instead, this was boooooring. Editor got famous person, it was risky, corporate moment, suggestion about employee personal life. Mix, match, repeat.
Gary Reece
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Entertaining book about a transformative publishing company that carved a niche for itself among the giants.
Jeanne Thornton
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
!!! I think I want to reread this book every year of my life until I die maybe
Andrew Shaffer
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very thorough (perhaps too thorough for a general audience). A little sex, but mostly contract disputes and office politics.
John Frazier
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Shani
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it
"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
...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Aug 07, 2013 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,
...more
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