Nan Talese Profiled

UntitledDespite its headline, the story “How Nan Talese Blazed Her Pioneering Path through the Publishing Boys’ Club,” in the new issue of Vanity Fair, is as much about her marriage to the author Gay Talese, as it is about her career (the cover line, left, indicates the article’s true slant) and it gives little insight into how she became one of the first women in publishing to run an imprint that bears her own name, Nan A. Talese.

Still, it includes some great bits of publishing lore, like the time Talese stood up to her boss, the tyrannical Dick Snyder, head of S&S at the time (notably, that company is now run by a woman, CEO Carolyn Reidy) and insisted on publishing Schindler’s List.

She also fought off Ernest Hemingway’s widow who went to court to demand changes to a book she edited early in her career, A.E. Hotchner’s Papa Hemingway. As the author remarks admiringly, “Nan just stood there the whole time with her battle garments on and fought them off.”

It’s no surprise that the story focuses on the marriage. Many have found that subject intriguing, even Gay Talese himself, who is currently working on a book about it. The story ends with a typically Nan Talese response to a question about whether that worries her. “She smiles sweetly and [says] …’He doesn’t know anything about marriage, so I’m not concerned.'”

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