Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Most Demeaning Publicity Letter

I received this from Farrar,Straus & Giroux.

It’s not the internships. It’s not the MFA programs. It’s not the time you spend at MacDowell. It may just be where you logged in your first days of employment. Twenty-some years ago, Evgenia Citkowitz worked as the assistant to the Director of Contracts at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

She also applied to be Jonathan Galassi’s assistant, and David Rieff, then a senior editor, induced Joseph Brodsky to write her a letter of recommendation. It’s a wonderful letter in which Brodsky writes, “Let me take the liberty of suggesting that you would be a fool to hire anybody else . . . I do understand that I may be encroaching on some sensitive territory, however what alleviates my scruples is the consideration that you, she, I and everybody who is worthy of our consideration will profit from your making her being your subordinate. She is tremendously intelligent, cute beyond belief and Cal Lowell liked her . . . Yours (as long as you make the right decision).” Galassi didn’t hire her, but is the proud editor of her first book, Ether: Seven Stories and a Novella.

I will let the early blurbs tell you more about this luminous collection:

“These stories are totally unique: they’re at once strange and graceful, macabre and funny. Evgenia Citkovitz burrows so deep inside her characters’ heads, she evokes feelings and impulses that become impossible to distinguish from our own. She understands that deep down, even in our own homes, we all feel like outsiders.”
—Noah Baumbach

“These stories are so funny and electric and honest, so beautifully and artfully done, you barely notice, until you feel that slow pain in your throat, they’re absolutely breaking your heart.”

—Katherine Taylor, author of Rules for Saying Goodbye

Evgenia Citkowitz was born in New York and was educated in London and the United States. Her short stories have been published in various British magazines. Her screenplay The House in Paris, based on Elizabeth Bowen’s novel, is currently in development, and her adaptation of Marek van der Jagt’s The Story of My Baldness has been taken on by the producers of Juno. Ether (Farrar, Straus and Giroux | May 4, 2010 | ISBN: 978-0-374-29887-6 | $25.00) is her first book. She is married to the actor Julian Sands and they live in Los Angeles with their two children.

COMMENTARY: Cal Lowell of course is Robert Lowell.

Brodsky's use of the word cute.

Brodsky would know--- priding himself indeed on knowing this--- what any Dubliner would know that only one noun comes after this word no matter the context.


Anonymous said...

FSG did themselves proud in publishing Evgenia Citkovitz. What right do you have to begrudge such an obviously heartbreaking talent? Don't you believe that the well-placed and the well-oiled have the need to publish books, too? Where's your sense of fair play? That she chose to write under her own name in order not to be referred to as Ms. Sands should have elicited from you at least a degree of sympathy toward people with famous actors as spouses. You've also chosen to ignore the fact that a distinguished firm like FSG, publisher of numerous great authors (from Hamsun to Handke), only publish the best in English and world literature. I hope your readers realize that a book should not be judged on its publicity material alone and hurry to buy Ms. Citkovitz's collection. After all, at one time she might really have been a cute . . . .

-- Disgruntled Reader

Anonymous said...

Is married to Guinness heiress Evgenia Citkowitz, whose sister Ivana was actually the daughter of writer Ivan Moffat. Evgenia and Ivana are the granddaughters of the late Maureen [Guinness], Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, one of a glamorous trio of sisters.

Was introduced to his current wife, Evgenia, by John Malkovich.

Anonymous said...

could someone explain what Brodsky meant by writing that Cal Lowell liked her?