Books: Cultural Amnesia — Acknowledgements |
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Cultural Amnesia : Acknowledgements

I SHOULD THANK Peter Straus, at that time Picador’s chief editor in London, for listening to my first idea of this book and thinking it might be worth a try. Andrew Kidd, who succeeded to the command post at Picador, also deserves thanks for trusting me when I kept on saying that the only way I could define the book was that it would define itself. My deepest and longest thanks, however, must surely go to Robert Weil of W. W. Norton, who not only believed in the project from its formative stages, but gave it knowledgeable and detailed editorial attention from page to page as it steadily accumulated in his office on Fifth Avenue. If things got to the point that he had to schedule an editorial session for his flight back to New York from a conference in China, still he did not give up, and every comment he made in the margin was pertinent. In the spiritual sense, this book would not be the same without him: he was its ideal reader. In the physical sense, it would not be here at all without Cécile Menon. In her plural role as my secretary, assistant, Webmeisterin, chief executive officer and personal trainer, she found time, among her many other tasks, to teach me the computer skills without which any hypertext becomes a runaway train. In most cases, teaching me consisted in realizing once again that I was a hopeless case, and she simply pressed the buttons needed to save the day. To take a single point, it took her no more than two minutes to track down exactly what Cocteau said about the chameleon on the tartan. Thus she saved me desperate hours, and I can only hope that this book will be of as much use to her generation of hungry young culture-vultures as her brilliance and diligence have been to me. A final but vital acknowledgement should go to my copy editor, Trent Duffy, who, as well as spotting ambiguities lurking in the syntax, saved me from many serious blunders, including the results of my irritating mental habit of writing “Milos Forman” for “Louis Malle”—a conspicuous instance of the embarrassing phenomenon known to clinical psychologists as the Malle-Forman malformation.

A book of this kind can be especially taxing in its very last stages of preparation, when the correcting of details persistently adds more details to be corrected. But without the generous donation of time by family members and family friends, far too many blunders on my part would have been enshrined in print. It took Tom Mayer at Norton, however, to ensure that the process of correcting the corrections did not finish off the author along with the book, and I thank him with a whole heart, if not quite, any longer, a whole mind.