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  • Stet
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars30
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on 14 June 2012
This was a very good read and a valuable insight into the publishing trade, even if the world it looks back on has all but disappeared. Diana Athill is a lucid writer and you can tell she's the product of a bygone era; something about her style (her old-school grammar, for one) speaks of a time when English was much more prim and proper. It's the first of her books I've read and I'm tempted to come back for more.

I particularly enjoyed the memoir's second half, when Athill talks candidly about the authors she worked with over the years (Jean Rhys, V S Naipaul, etc). But I was hoping to hear more about John Updike, one of my favourite writers and a man that Athill edited on many occasions. She tells us he was an excellent craftsman whose books arrived "perfectly formed"... but beyond that, she's curiously silent. Surely he was more interesting to know than that? There's nothing else to tell, when you've got such good gossip on the rest of your clients? I found it slightly strange.
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on 11 August 2015
It was an undeniably fascinating and entertaining account of her life, with extremely interesting insights into the publishing business. However I couldn't help but give this book only three stars: it's true that the book is not meant to only talk about her work, and a little personal background is welcome to enrich the story, but I found extremely annoying the way she sometimes lingers on her sexual life. Honestly, I don't give a damn whom she slept with and how many times, and if she liked it or not. That's totally beyond the point of the book and found her choice of including such personal details rather inappropriate. I'm not making it a question of decency or anything, it's just that I bought the book to read about her life as an editor primarily, and I don't think this kind of information add any value to the book.
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on 28 October 2014
This is decent enough, an account of some interesting times with some significant authors, but I was very, very disappointed. I like Diana Athill and would have liked to give this four stars. Why not? There is no index, unforgivable in a book such as this. There are not even any chapter headings at the beginning. Want to look up what she has to say about Norman Mailer or Jean Rhys - hard luck - you will just have to search the book to find the passages. I have the Granta edition, but as far as I can see all editions are the same. I can't believe Diana Athill would let this go so it must be the publishers. Why? To save a few pence? Stupid, negligent and penny-pinching.

Stetting outrageous.
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on 6 September 2015
I was a Morelock for an academic journal, Morelock being a reference to the low status apes who worked underground to keep the world going in The Time Machine. My colleague and I discussed whether we should both answer the phone as "Mrs Morelock." So when we heard of Stet we searched for a copy, interested in another view of mss. and proof-reading and Comma Wars. Her story was one of delight and devotion and (gulp) low pay. She must have been the editor every writer hopes to have. Free preview: she found the manuscripts of John Updike needed little blue pencil.
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on 23 September 2012
I really like Diana's account of her life with Deutsch. If you want to get into publishing and would like an overview, this is a good start. Whether as a writer, an editor or a publisher, this wonderfully written memoir has stories for everybody.
It is also a really good mix between publishing and real life (although most publishers probably feel they don't have a real life anymore)... There is love, drama, excitement, everything a good biography should have. Plus all the stories from Diana's editorial life.
Get it, read it, know yer publishing business.
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on 19 October 2012
I found this book really interesting. Diana Athill was an editor at Andre Deutsch and the book offers snap shots of various authors and of Ms Athill's life. She is a intelligent and witty writter and I really enjoyed this. I loved the view into publishing as it used to be. It reminded me of what we have lost with the decline of good editing and the rise of Tesco cheapie books and barely edited books / shelf published books / quickly produced ebooks. I also liked its robust style and occasionally trenchant views that don't sit so comfortably today
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on 10 November 2013
This copy was described as simply in good condition but in the event turned out to be what I would consider perfect. My mother has requested the book for her forthcoming birthday (her 92nd) and I was desperate to get hold of a hardback copy (she hates paperbacks) so took a chance on it being less than perfect, but it wasn't! Many thanks. Recommended seller
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on 29 December 2012
This book has been on my to-read list since it was published and the wait was worth it. The remarkable Athill writes as well as the authors with whom she came into intimate contact as their editor, friend and, sometimes, confidante. Excellent character sketches, amusing (and sometimes saddening) anecdotes, intimate recall across the decades.
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on 8 November 2012
As the author says upfront a book of two halves. The first part is surprisingly interesting and I enjoyed reading the book until it tutmred in the second half to salacious gossip about people she regards as eminent authors. A sort of upmarket OK magazine and not to my taste at all.
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on 24 December 2012
This woman clearly led an incredible life and writes very well. However, at times it smacks of a cliquey, snobby world which can be a bit of a turn-off. I just bet Diana was the most popular girl in school. Does that make me bitter and jealous? Probably.
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