the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Farrar Straus and Giroux

Mom’s Retirement from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

After my mother graduated high school, she started working at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, a publishing house in New York City.  She worked for the same company until yesterday, when she retired from her job.  It was an exciting, but emotional moment for her and for all those who worked with her over the years.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux was founded by Roger W. Straus. The firm is renowned for its international list of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s books. Farrar, Straus and Giroux authors have won extraordinary acclaim over the years, including numerous National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and twenty-one Nobel Prizes in literature. Nobel Prize-winners include Knut Hamsun, Hermann Hesse, T. S. Eliot, Pär Lagerkvist, François Mauriac, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Salvatore Quasimodo, Nelly Sachs, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pablo Neruda, Eugenio Montale, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Czeslaw Milosz, Elias Canetti, William Golding, Wole Soyinka, Joseph Brodsky, Camilo José Cela, Nadine Gordimer, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney.


My mother  started her job wearing cool glasses. 

My mother is in back, smiling.

My mother in her newer glasses.  Check out the “typewriter.”

The late Roger Straus, the founder of the FSG, and Jonathan Gallasi, current editor-in-chief and president of FSG.

My mother’s retirement brunch at the office.   Her hip glasses are on her head.

Now, she’s on to new adventures.

Mom Dearest

Have you noticed that I have gone from writing about Sophia every day on my blog to writing my mother? Does this mean that my existence completely revolves around the woman I happen to be sharing my space with at the time?

Don’t answer.

In a week from today, my mother is going to retire from her job at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Publishers.  She has worked with the company since before she was married, and has seen drastic changes in the publishing industry over the decades.  What does this mean to you, my dear blogger friends?  This means you have one more week to suck up to me, thinking that somehow I can help you get your sleep-inducing “memoir” read by the company’s editor-in-chief.  After that, you can stop reading this blog because I will be useless to you.

My mother does not like the Florida senior early-bird dinner lifestyle, but her friends have pressured her to sublet an apartment in “Century Village” in Boca Raton for three months this winter so she can try it out.  Yes, she has officially become like Seinfeld’s mother.

This creates a dilemma. Do I stay here during the winter while she is in Florida?

Am I ever going back to Los Angeles?

Is there a direct connection between me returning to New York and the immediate collapse of Wall Street?

Imaginary Phone Conversation Between Sophia and My Mother
a one act play by Neilochka

Mom:  How DID you live with him for so long?

Sophia:  Now do you see what I was talking about?

Mom:  And every night it is the same thing!  He watches All My Children, yelling at the TV, saying “Don’t do it, Erica!” and then he locks himself in his room for an hour, making all these weird grunting sounds, like a caveman.  What does he do in there?”

Sophia:  You don’t want to know.  If I were you, I’d get away from him this winter before he makes you crazy.  Go anywhere.  Go to Florida.

Mom:  I hate Florida.

Sophia:  Well, it’s your choice.  Florida in the sun or three long months with…

Mom:  Hola, Boca!  Will you come visit?

Sophia:  Sure.  And I won’t tell him!

The two women laugh.

THE END

Yeah, I know I am funny.   But, the only reason I have a sense of humor is because my mother is funnier.

After reading my last post, she bought me this as a gift:

From Now On, Call Me Elaine Kramer’s Son

nyer.jpg

The New Yorker interview”  of my mother  (well, I’m not sure it is really an interview, since they only used one line — but we’re still proud!)

(backstory here)

(They never used my mother’s best line:

Q:  What do you like best about your new office?

A:  It is closer to the bathroom!)

You’re the best, Mom!

Update: Gawker, of course, writes about the New Yorker article and name drops authors like Tom Wolfe, but never mentions my mother. Hey, what’s the matter with you guys?!

Outdone by My Mother

fsg.jpg 

The bad thing about having insecurities is that you always looking at the external world, comparing yourself to others.   Today I skipped all blog posts that were about romantic Valentine’s Days.  Was I happy for these lucky bloggers and their contentment with their significant others?  Of course I… oh, who am I fooling.  Bastards.

No matter whatever good happens, a truly negative person only sees that the next person is better off.  I told a friend from film school that I have been taking with this producer about some story idea.  He reminded me about our mega-successful friend who is directing a film with Nicolas Cage.  Jerk.

Thank God for mothers.  Whatever you do, they always put you first.   A mother always makes her son feel like a Prince.   Today I was talking to my mother about my interview post.  She is astounded that so many people have gotten involved. 

“And who’s interviewing YOU?”  she asked.

“Oh, I don’t know.  I’ll probably just put my name at the bottom of the list and let it be random like everyone else.”

“That’s nice.” she said, in her sweet voice.  “I’m being interviewed tomorrow, too.”

“Oh yeah?” I said, laughing.  “Who’s interviewing you?  The Flushing chapter of Hadassah?”

“No, tomorrow, a woman is coming to interview me at work.  From “The New Yorker” magazine.”

“The New Yorker?!”  You’re joking.”

“Why would I be joking.”

“No offense, Mom, but why would “The New Yorker” — one of the most prestigious magazines out there — want to interview you?”

“Well, maybe you need to re-read your “interview” post again where you say that “everybody” is a “somebody.”

The story: 

My mother has worked for one company her entire life, starting the job before she was even married.   It is the literary book publisher of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  Although she isn’t an editor or someone with much decision making power, she has been working there since the days when the company had just a handful of employees, lead by the firm’s founder, Roger W. Straus.   Since then, the company has published twenty-one Nobel Prizes winners in literature. Knut Hamsun, Hermann Hesse, T. S. Eliot, Pär Lagerkvist, François Mauriac, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Salvatore Quasimodo, Nelly Sachs, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pablo Neruda, Eugenio Montale, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Czeslaw Milosz, Elias Canetti, William Golding, Wole Soyinka, Joseph Brodsky, Camilo José Cela, Nadine Gordimer, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney.

With most of the original staff having either passed away or retired, my MOTHER is now apparently the longest-active employee of the famous company.  She has seen the rise and fall of authors and agents, the birth of the mega book stores, the changes in book publishing, and the inevitable growth of the conglomerates eating up the independents.  And The New Yorker wants to ask her a few questions for some general interest article on the firm and book publishing!

Perfect.  I’m going to be interviewed by some dumb random blogger, while my MOTHER is going to be interviewed by The New Yorker!   (Mom, remember to tell her about the blog!  “Citizen of the Month”)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:   A Merry Tale of Whale Watching

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