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Literchoor Is My Beat : A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions
by Ian S. MacNiven


Overview -

A biography thoughtful and playful of the man who founded New Directions and transformed American publishing

James Laughlin poet, publisher, world-class skier was the man behind some of the most daring, revolutionary works in verse and prose of the twentieth century.  Read more...


 
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More About Literchoor Is My Beat by Ian S. MacNiven
 
 
 
Overview

A biography thoughtful and playful of the man who founded New Directions and transformed American publishing

James Laughlin poet, publisher, world-class skier was the man behind some of the most daring, revolutionary works in verse and prose of the twentieth century. As the founder of New Directions, he published Ezra Pound's "The Cantos" and William Carlos Williams's "Paterson"; he brought Hermann Hesse and Jorge Luis Borges to an American audience. Throughout his life, this tall, charismatic intellectual, athlete, and entrepreneur preferred to stay hidden. But no longer in ""Literchoor Is My Beat": A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions," Ian S. MacNiven has given us a sensitive and revealing portrait of this visionary and the understory of the last century of American letters.
Laughlin or J, as MacNiven calls him emerges as an impressive and complex figure: energetic, idealistic, and hardworking, but also plagued by doubts not about his ability to identify and nurture talent but about his own worth as a writer. Haunted by his father's struggles with bipolar disorder, J threw himself into a flurry of activity, pulling together the first New Directions anthology before he'd graduated from Harvard and purchasing and managing a ski resort in Utah.
MacNiven's portrait is comprehensive and vital, spiced with Ezra Pound's eccentric letters, J's romantic foibles, and anecdotes from a seat-of-your-pants era of publishing now gone by. A story about the struggle to publish only the best, it is itself an example of literary biography at its finest."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374299392
  • ISBN-10: 0374299390
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Publish Date: November 2014
  • Page Count: 584
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Editors, Journalists, Publishers

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-08-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

New Directions founder Laughlin (1914–1997) emerges as a perceptive, if distracted, visionary in this meticulously detailed biography. Though he aspired to be a poet, and eventually published verse and fiction, “J” was persuaded by mentor Ezra Pound to channel his creative ambitions into publishing. In 1936, while still an undergrad at Harvard, he rolled out the first New Directions title, the anthology New Directions in Poetry and Prose, and soon became the primary publisher for Pound, William Carlos Williams, Delmore Schwartz, Kenneth Rexroth, and other modernists whose work usually flew below the radar of most trade publishers. Laughlin’s patrician heritage, as MacNiven (Lawrence Durrell: A Biography) presents it, endowed him with a worldliness that made him receptive to the work of underappreciated literary talents, both here and abroad. MacNiven quotes extensively from Laughlin’s vast correspondence with luminaries, capturing their camaraderie and occasional capricious sulks. While working as a publisher, Laughlin was also trying to run a ski lodge in Utah, write, and keep his neglected family together; there is much here to suggest that New Directions succeeded despite, rather than because of, his abundant energies. Laughlin’s professional and personal lives were so packed with incident that it’s all MacNiven can do to contain the torrents of detail; readers will come away from the book appreciating Laughlin’s impact on 20th-century letters. 16 pages of b&w illus. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Nov.)

 
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