Anne Trubek has a piece in The Atlantic about the manuscript and a rare book collection of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, hardly an untapped topic—I’ve seen many discussions of it over the years, and if I recall correctly its eager pursuit of living authors has figured in a satirical novel or two. But this one ends with this intriguing passage:
But it’s a risky game, this betting on contemporary authors. What if Denis Johnson’s hardcovers get remaindered? What if Norman Mailer does not stand the test of time? With an eye toward protecting investments, Staley does his part to promote his authors. Alice Adams, the novelist and short-story writer, was a major acquisition in 2000 and now seems to be the subject of a subtle awareness campaign. Staley admits as much, saying he works at “keeping writers like Alice Adams before the public.” His employees follow his lead. En route to the Wallace archive, one staffer pointed out to me the 27 boxes comprising the Adams collection. Later, another employee, while showing me DeLillo’s letters, offhandedly mentioned her love for Adams’s stories. “She really should be better-known,” the woman said, looking up at me hopefully.
I find the idea of archivists trying to promote their authors pretty hilarious; I suppose they can’t be blamed for trying, God love them, but they should really leave publicity to the experts and canon formation to the public at large. (Thanks, Paul!)