On Friday, Publishers Weekly reported that four editors at the now-combined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had been laid off, a move anticipated for quite some time after Riverdeep, Houghton Mifflin’s parent company, bought out Harcourt late last year and the two similar but distinct trade devisions were merged together. Later that day Publishers Marketplace cited who they were: Webb Younce, Jane Rosenman and Anton Mueller on the Houghton side, and Stacia Decker on the Harcourt side.All of which is quite doomy and gloomy, but we believe cream always rises to the top and that Stacia will be beating off potential suitors before you can say ‘all hands on Decker’. You go, girl ...
The Houghton layoffs are bad news on the literary fiction and non-fiction front - authors who count any of the three editors as theirs include Mary Sharratt, Laleh Khadivi, Jonathan Miles, Elinor Lipman, Nicole Mones, Jenefer Shute, Timothy Egan, Mark Slouka, Anchee Min, Jonathan Chait, Taylor Antrim, Steven Sherrill and Colum McCann – but Decker’s dismissal is a huge blow for the mystery genre.
Not only was Decker tasked with editing most of the books Otto Penzler acquired for his eponymous imprint, an author stable that includes John Harvey, Thomas Perry, Andrew Klavan, Joe Gores and Joyce Carol Oates, but she acquired many excellent and interesting writers treading on the side of noir, such as Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, John McFetridge, James Sallis and Declan Burke, as well as Inger Wolfe. No wonder Spinetingler Magazine recently voted her as “Best Editor” in their inaugural awards given out a few weeks ago.
What Decker’s leaving means for those authors, as well as Penzler’s imprint, remains to be seen, but I’m not feeling a lot of optimism at this point for an imprint that took care to publishing quality crime fiction exclusively in hardcover and trade paperback. I do feel optimism, however, for Decker, who not only has good editorial taste but some very shrewd instincts that will serve her well at her next editorial job. She’ll also, I hope, continue writing, as her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Nerve, South Dakota Review, Small Spiral Notebook, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, and Faultline, among other publications. But once again, this news shows the dark side of publisher consolidation, a side that probably won’t lighten up anytime soon.
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
All Hands On Decker
The rather foxy Stacia Decker (right) was the editor of CAP’s Grand Vizier, Declan Burke, for the five minutes or so between when she signed his humble offering THE BIG O for Harcourt and the merger between Harcourt and Houghton Mifflin. Sadly, Stacia became a casualty of said merger, as Sarah Weinman reports. To wit: