"The manuscript of an out-of-control writer is not a pretty thing to behold: sloppy, confused, slapdash, disjointed," writes Herman Gollob, author of Me and Shakespeare. "Out of this chaos the editor must bring order—structure, organization, coherence." Now in his early 70s, Gollob is well-known in publishing circles, having served for years as an editor at Little, Brown, Atheneum and Simon & Schuster.
Originally from Texas, he made fortuitous early professional connections that led him into careers as a Hollywood story editor and literary agent. He went on to nurture the talents of writers such as James Clavell, Dan Jenkins, Donald Barthelme and Willie Morris. While his book is, at times, lofty in tone, it is anecdote-laden, rich with gossip and brimming with all things Shakespearean.Gollob, who teaches adult education classes on the Bard at New Jersey's Caldwell College Lifelong Learning Institute, takes his cue from pertinent Shakespearean quotations, describing his journeys to the Bodleian and Folger Shakespeare libraries, relating his exchanges with students and offering a fair amount of hardcore literary, critical and historical analysis of the Bard's works and influences.Along the way, he discusses such personal matters as his father's death from prostate cancer, his mother's lobotomy and his high regard for his wife, Barbara. He also takes an apparently long-overdue retaliatory swipe at the late actor Lee Strasberg by relating an incident in which Gollob the editor told potential author Strasberg that no one would ever want to read a book as pedantic as the one Strasberg was proposing. It would seem that Strasberg was not as encouraging of Gollob's early attempts to be an actor as Gollob would have liked.
Martin Brady writes from Nashville.