Jason Epstein, former Editorial Director at Random House, was a founder of The New York Review and of the Library of America. He is the author of Eating: A Memoir. (Dectember 2013)


Food Tips for Christmas

Joachim Beuckelaer: The Butcher Shop, 1568

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

by Dana Goodyear
As the familiar cultural world slowly, messily deconstructs itself, it was inevitable that cuisine would be transformed as well and that it would begin in California, especially the Los Angeles area with its lively authentic Latino-Asian food culture and its tutelary genius, the brilliant, obsessed Jonathan Gold, the only food …

The Realm of King Roger

Roger Straus congratulating Joseph Brodsky on winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, London, 1987

Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux

by Boris Kachka
Boris Kachka’s history of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, the distinguished publishing house that the late Roger Straus founded in 1945 and ran on a shoestring brilliantly until his death in 2004, is gossip at a very high level: not quite the level of art achieved by Dickens and Proust, who …


A Strike and a Start: Founding The New York Review

Jason Epstein and Barbara Epstein

Of the four friends who met for dinner fifty years ago in Barbara’s and my apartment on West Sixty-Seventh Street during the New York newspaper strike, I am the sole survivor. Though we had no such plan in mind beforehand, it was at that dinner that Elizabeth Hardwick, her husband Robert Lowell, Barbara and I saw all at once the opportunity that would become The New York Review of Books.

How Books Will Survive Amazon

Books at an Amazon logistics center, Bad Hersfeld, Germany, October 23, 2007

So far discussion of the Justice Department’s suit against Apple and several major book publishers for conspiring to fix retail prices of e-books has omitted the major issue: the impact of digitization on the book industry generally. The immediate symptoms are Amazon’s own pricing strategy—which, unlike Apple’s and the publishers’, is to sell e-books below cost to achieve market share and perhaps a monopoly—and the federal suit challenging Apple’s and the publishers’ counterattack. This is more than a conflict between Amazon and publishers. It is a vivid expression of how the logic of a radical new and more efficient technology impels institutional change. Though Amazon’s strategy might force publishers to shrink or even abandon their old infrastructure, demand for physical books, printed and bound, will not disappear.

Jane Jacobs & the Republican Radicals

Protesters in front of Supreme Court in Washington as the court concluded three days of arguments on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care overhaul, March 28, 2012

A team of filmmakers planning a documentary on Jane Jacobs asked me recently about the original reviews of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, her famous critique of city planners and their destruction of vital city neighborhoods. I told the filmmakers that writers like Jane are usually attacked by beneficiaries of entrenched institutions and that she was no exception. But I also said that I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response to Jane’s book from New York’s so-called Upper West Side intellectuals, most of whom had previously supported and hoped to strengthen the moderate social welfare state but were now fiercely opposed to it. Had these proto-neocons misread The Death and Life of Great American Cities as a generalized assault on government as such rather than a critique of a particular case of government excess?