You've Never Heard of Robert Loomis, and That's the Point

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Photo: NYTimes.com

Is it our imagination, or have we been noticing an uptick lately in glowing profiles of old-school book editors? (Maybe we're just projecting: We've only read Bennett Cerf's At Random, oh, eight times.) Today's Times brings the recap of another ceremony, this one honoring the 50-year career of Random House's Robert Loomis, who counts among his authors William Styron, Maya Angelou, and Calvin Trillin. As profiles go, it's pretty straightforward: a roundup of Loomis's cute editing quirks, reminiscences of an era before bloated auctions and editorial meetings — really? no meetings in the good old days? — and sighs for the days when an editor could merely, you know, edit, rather than being a multimedia star. It's charming boilerplate, all of it, but we're more interested in why the media is suddenly obsessed with attending the publishing industry's version of a Kiwanis send-off. Are newspapers for some reason desperately trying to remove Eau de Regan from the publishing world? (We're pretty sure the lede "Robert Loomis has never been fired" doesn't refer to the days before downsizing.) And, if so, we're eagerly awaiting fawning profiles of every editorial assistant who's managed not to scream anti-Semitic rants into the phone.

A Career in Letters, 50 Years and Counting [NYT]
Earlier: Forget the Columbia Course; Aspiring Editors Should Work on Farms