“Thank god i didn’t let your magazine take my photo,” says the blazered, bookish 30-year-old in a dark SoHo bar. “I would’ve woken up in the middle of the night and thought, You hate yourself. I’d have thought, You hate yourself twice as much as you did yesterday. You have double the ennui.”
The doubt, the self-loathing, the ambivalence about fame – you’d be forgiven for thinking this faux naïf is Dave Eggers, the earnest yet ironic author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. But it’s not. The faux naïf in question is his editor, Simon & Schuster’s Geoff Kloske. Now that writers like Eggers and David Foster Wallace are having their prose parsed and their photographs taken as though they were rock stars – or maybe just indie musicians who secretly enjoy protesting their stardom – editors like Kloske (who first made his name with David Sedaris) are becoming the book industry’s equivalent of A&R men.
Like seventies record-company executives who grew ponytails to consort with rock stars, such editors share their artists’ worldview – or at least their social purview. Grove’s Morgan Entrekin hobnobs with his signees Bret Easton Ellis and Candace Bushnell; Michael Pietsch, now editor-in-chief at Little, Brown, is known for his close work with Wallace; Knopf’s Gary Fisketjon’s chummy posse of swashbuckling authors includes Jay McInerney and Richard Ford; Knopf’s Jordan Pavlin watches protectively over her author Ethan Hawke; FSG’s Paul Elie recently made a two-book deal with his old college friend, Payback author Tom Kelly. “He was friends with my roommate, and we used to hang a lot,” says Elie. “A couple of weeks ago, we took a meeting at the Knicks game and worked on a deal.”
At the bar, Kloske takes another sip of Scotch. “I knew Dave socially far before he began work on the book,” he says. “Of course we went through a full round of editing, but I’d have to say I got the good end of the deal.”