At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf

At Random The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf I ve got the name for our publishing operation We just said we were going to publish a few books on the side at random Let s call it Random House So recounts Bennett Cerf in this wonderfully amusing m

  • Title: At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf
  • Author: Bennett Cerf
  • ISBN: 9780394478777
  • Page: 406
  • Format: Hardcover
  • I ve got the name for our publishing operation We just said we were going to publish a few books on the side at random Let s call it Random House So recounts Bennett Cerf in this wonderfully amusing memoir of the making of a great publishing house An incomparable raconteur, possessed of an irrepressible wit and an abiding love of books and authors, Cerf brilliantly e I ve got the name for our publishing operation We just said we were going to publish a few books on the side at random Let s call it Random House So recounts Bennett Cerf in this wonderfully amusing memoir of the making of a great publishing house An incomparable raconteur, possessed of an irrepressible wit and an abiding love of books and authors, Cerf brilliantly evokes the heady days of Random House s first decades Part of the vanguard of young New York publishers who revolutionized the book business in the 1920s and 30s, Cerf helped usher in publishing s golden age Cerf was a true personality, whose other pursuits columnist, anthologist, author, lecturer, radio host, collector of jokes and anecdotes, perennial judge of the Miss America pageant, and panelist on What s My Line helped shape his reputation as a man of boundless energy and enthusiasm and brought unprecedented attention to his company and to his authors At once a rare behind the scenes account of book publishing and a fascinating portrait of four decades worth of legendary authors, from James Joyce and William Faulkner to Ralph Ellison and Eudora Welty, At Random is a feast for bibliophiles and anyone who s ever wondered what goes on inside a publishing house.

    One thought on “At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf”

    1. [Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (cclapcenter). I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.]Recently at a party, someone favorably compared me to Random House co-founder Bennett Cerf; and that inspired me to read his autobiography, because not only did I know barely anything about him, but indeed about the entire formation of the modern American publishing industry, other than the vague realization l [...]

    2. Me ha encantado. Por divertido, por curioso, por leyenda de la creación de un mónstruo editorial. Por todo

    3. This book should be required reading for those who work in book publishing, but any bibliophile will definitely appreciate it. Bennett Cerf was an outrageous character with a passion for creating good books, finesse for dealing with authors (Ayn Rand, Gertrude Stein, Eugene O'Neill, among many others), and an unbeatable sense of humor that will make you laugh out loud. His reminiscences delighted me so that I missed my stop on the subway while reading them and laughing out loud.

    4. Qué libro tan entretenido! Las memorias de Bennett Cerf son igual de interesantes que los libros que editó y publicó. Co-fundador de Random House, comparte de una manera muy divertida cómo descubrió y se aventuró a publicar escritores como William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Dr. Seuss, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein -entre muchos más-, y cómo sus relaciones personales lo marcaron. Imagínense lo interesante que ha de haber sido ser el mejor amigo de todo el círculo de escritores estadounidens [...]

    5. Bennett Cerf truly led a charmed life. After a brief stint on Wall Street, he fell into publishing and founded Random House, to this day (although it is now owned by Bertlesmann) the world's largest English language book publisher.This book, more a collection of anecdotes than a memoir (it was compiled posthumously from interviews and notes), tells many amusing stories of life in the book business. Cerf is a great storyteller, and makes his life sound like a grand lark. Anyone who loves books ca [...]

    6. I picked up this book because I had the good fortune to meet Bennett Cerf's son Chris through the Columbia Publishing Course. Anyone going into book publishing should definitely give this book a read, as it provides an entertaining look at the early 20th century publishing world, among other things.The book is made up of chapters of Bennett Cerf's (the co-founder of Random House) life, stories, and thought processes. A lot of it is gleaned from oral interviews with Cerf, so some of the stories t [...]

    7. This was another one of those books which I have had for well over 30 years but never picked up to read. But now that I am low on books to pick from, I did . I had expected to read about the Bennett cerf form WHAT IS MY LINE tv show. I had forgot that he was the owner of Random house publishers The book was wonderful ,Cerf came into contact with all the authors of his day and his day was the time period of my favorite authors.

    8. Es un libro muy interesante y cuenta de forma muy amena cómo se creó el gigante que es Random House. Me cayó genial Bennett Cerf, me han gustado sus anécdotas y su forma de ver las cosas.

    9. This is the perfect memoir -- Cerf was well-known as a lecturer and a collector of anecdotes, and his talents shine through every page. He keeps things light, as he seems to have done in his life. This no doubt papers over many issues that might benefit from deeper analysis, but this isn't that sort of book.Instead we get a romp through his nearly 50 years in publishing, from his apprenticeship under Horace Liveright, to taking The Modern Library independent, to founding Random House in 1927, to [...]

    10. Excellent biographyThis book is an excellent biography and look inside Random House publisher. It covers how Bennett Cerf and his friend started and ran the publishing house. It is very interesting to me since I use to work in publishing and watch him on "What's My Line" reruns.

    11. I remember my father introducing me to Bennett Cerf while on What's My Line. I was pretty small and it was just a name and game I couldn't follow. Then a few years ago What's My Line started being shown on late night television. After taping it for several years I think I've seen all the existing episodes and absolutely love the shows with Dorothy Killgallen, Arlene Francis and Bennet Cerf. Guests panelists are fun but it was the interaction of the three main panel members and John Daly as the h [...]

    12. A fascinating and often funny account of how Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer established and built up Random House, the publishing giant. The book is based on interviews with Cerf that were conducted as part of an oral history project at Columbia University. I particularly enjoyed the stories from the beginning, when Cerf and Klopfer were trying to find their way with the company and the opportunity came along for them to purchase the Modern Library, later a Random House staple, from Horace Live [...]

    13. Growing up with books from an early age I still remember the love I had for the books themselves. Thus the encounter with "The Modern Library" editions from Random House was love at first sight. I read my first Faulkner and Dostoevsky in these editions. And I still have a small collection among my personal library today. All this as introduction to why I picked up and devoured this wonderful memoir of the life of a literary publisher. It is a fascinating collection of reminiscences of a life liv [...]

    14. Since I've started to watch "What's My Line" reruns , I've developed a fascination with Bennett Cerf. What a charming man he was. And his autobiographical story is just as charming and down to earth. He says "I'm just lucky" and so he was No wonder he had that constant friendly smile on his face.I love reading his anecdotes about James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Theodore Dreiser, Ayn Rand He knew EVERYone! I ordered one of his other books from I have my eye on two more!

    15. Put together by wife and editor after Cerf's 1971 death, using oral interviews, dairies, notes, etc. VERY informative and entertaining look into the life of a great publisher, businessman, and raconteur. Touches on many great characters of the 20th century. Worth every star. Of course, I AM a big fan of American life and letters of the 1920s through 1950s, so am perhaps predisposed to this book. Would reread.

    16. I don't doubt that Bennett Cerf was an interesting and charming enough man to establish the world's biggest publishing house, but the entire book ("Reminiscences") is filled with things like: "Phyllis and I love Harold's son Tom. We've watched him grow up. He's one of my favorite people, Tom." That's the only mention of Tom (could be anyone) and since the vast majority of the book is just Cerf recalling memories without any meat or substance or introspection, this one didn't work for me.

    17. Sometimes the past grabs you when you browse the biography shelf. I knew about Cerf from early TV, What's My Line, which I certainly would never have watched had I had several hundred other channels. But it passed the time between a childhood mainlining books. And what a verbal motormouth this man is. That just means his revelations of his life in the publishing world can have a riveting quality, but certainly only in spurts.

    18. Since I am a publisher, I am obsessed with reading books about publishers and their presses. And Random House is the biggie of them all. One thing for sure, publishing is a very romantic business. Whatever you are a small press or a huge one like Random. The old School (and Cerf is a member of that school) were visionaries and had great passion in their work. I hope to be among that little club!

    19. Muy entretenido. Un pillo, Cerf, de esos emprendedores livianitos de sangre que además son cultos y tienen algún talento. Una especie inexistente en el extremo austral. Por lo demás es igual que todas las biografías de editores estadounidenses, una historia de éxito, con sus muy interesantes cotilleos sobre la mezquindad de algunos autores y su complicada relación con el dinero.

    20. A very well put together biography of Bennett Cerf from notes and writings of Bennett Cerf himself. It describes himself, his author friends and clients, the publishing business and the formation of Random House from the 1920s to 1970. Would consider it a must read for those in the publishing business.

    21. This is one of very few books of which I never wanted to reach the end, and it broke my heart when I did. Bennett was many things, including a vivacious spirit, a terrible punster, a bon vivant, and a man with impeccable taste in literature - these memoirs of the famous founder of Random House publishing were sheer heaven!

    22. An amazing read for anyone in/fascinated by publishing. Pompous and self-satisfied hardly begins to describe Bennett Cerf, but if you founded one of the most prestigious and reputable publishing houses in America, wouldn't you be?

    23. MPLLost data in move to GR from Shelf.Story of Cerf and Random House. Added information to a guy I just saw on TV on Sunday nights.

    24. A delightful look at the book business in the 20th century by a master of quality and friendly publishing.

    25. Published after his death, this memoir collects various interviews Cerf did with the Columbia school of journalism about publishing and his role in founding Random House.

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