Friday, December 19, 2008

St. Martin's Press, at War and Looking in Your Window


St. Martin’s Press has crossed my mind a few times lately, though I worked there only briefly, in the early 90s:

•Fellow former St. Martin’s editorial assistant Alex Kuczynski has been criticized for her supposedly cavalier writing about hiring a surrogate mom.

•Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote in this month’s Reason about the St. Martin’s sci-fi imprint Tor being friendly to libertarian tales (as William F. Buckley put it the only time I ever spoke to him: “Science fiction is rather conducive to conveying libertarian values”).

She also mentions an editor who left, named Baen, who started an explicitly libertarian/conservative/military-themed sci-fi book publishing company. I mentioned that company in one of my decade-ago New York Post sci-fi reviews, even though my editor thought it was weird to comment on a publishing company instead of a book. Alas, the Baen books I read were mostly awful and sounded like third-rate military thrillers with “Soviet” taken out and “Rigellian” put in, and I said so — so let no one claim I put politics before art. Perhaps they’ve improved over the years, though.

Mangu-Ward also forwarded this link to ad images from vintage chemistry sets for kids — with girls present as equals in the 1928, absent in mid-century, and on their own separate but equal chemistry set by the time the Sexual Revolution arrives, whatever we conclude from that.

•But the reason St. Martin’s warrants mention in this Month of Feminism is the following panopticon-like tale, fraught with sexual politics, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I recently met up with my novelist friend Katherine Taylor in her boyfriend’s apartment. I mentioned that the beautiful Flatiron Building across the street (one of the oldest skyscrapers) is home to St. Martin’s, which is also publishing Katherine’s novels. She said, I know that now but didn’t until I called to talk to my editors and mentioned I’d been wandering around my boyfriend’s eighteenth-floor-or-so apartment without clothes on all day…to which they said, Uh, we may have seen you…does he live across from the Flatiron Building…?

Does this mean Katherine has been exploited by her publishing company? Has she sexually harassed her editors? Perhaps everyone wins.

(As it happens, she also just got back from a trip to Switzerland, a country which in addition to being rather libertarian and a bit boring did not allow women to vote until 1971, a couple years after my birth and not too many years prior to Katherine’s. This raises an obvious question that, given the seriousness of the issues touched on in this Month of Feminism, may warrant thorough discussion: Might Switzerland’s freedom and prosperity be causally tied to disenfranchising women?)


Mark said...

I think there might be something to that…Canadian voters can be pretty hip, with it, and enlightened when it comes to gay marriage and medical marijuana, but when it’s something somebody’s husband or boyfriend might enjoy – say a lap dance, a cigar, or a trip to a brothel – they can get pretty conservative, tout de suite.

katherine said...

It’s Picador, not St. Martin’s. Todd, you’ll do anything to tie in a story! And naturally I didn’t volunteer that I wasn’t wearing any clothes. They saw me. That’s not exploitation, that’s coincidence.

Todd Seavey said...

Both are subsets of/affiliated with Pan Macmillan, sharing offices in that very space — thus our whole original conversation about it.  Be careful you don’t give unknowing readers the impression I’d make up a publishing company or something.

katherine said...

I see now that you were just conserving words, and I applaud you.

Russell Hanneken said...

Todd, I assume you’ve read John Lott’s paper on how women’s suffrage contributed to the growth of government in the U.S.?

Gerard said...

He’s actually incorporated that into a much broader, Freakonomics-type book. Although I don’t recall the title, it sounded very interesting based upon an interview he did with Steve Malzberg where they touched upon its central theses.

Charles Murray also has a great new book out, which refutes the conventional wisdom about mass public education.

Todd Seavey said...

Ah, that would be _Freedomnomics_, which as it happens was one of the Book Selections for March (time flies):

Todd Seavey said...

And, you know, I only just realized I’m supposed to attend a party tonight co-hosted by a man named Peter Straus, which just happens to be the name of the former head of Picador, the company that I couldn’t be bothered to distinguish from St. Martin’s above.

It _may_ in fact be him, in which case it is lucky that I will now be on my toes to avoid repeating my prior sloppy indifference to corporate hierarchy.

Or it could just be a guy with the same name — but in this crazy town, it’s never safe to assume.

Todd Seavey said...

Nope, further investigation reveals they’re two different guys with the same name — one now a mega-powerful London literary agent who helped give the world _Bridget Jones’s Diary_, the other _literally_ a clown…which _probably_ explains why his co-hostess was inspired to make a short film about a woman who has sex with a clown.

OK, now everything makes sense.

Tim said...

I expect the 16th amendment had a big impact on

the size of the federal government. I’m sure the idea

was to make possible large federal allocations, if

necessary (and to decrease reliance on duties – which

could dry up)

Tim said...

I took another peek – the study covered state

governments. His case might have been more

compelling if he were able to isolate the effects

using only the data from the few states that

enfranchised women before the end of WW1,

but he pools all the data together. Since most

states gave the vote at about the same time, I

would say the argument becomes less strong, it

could be tied to the zeitgeist.