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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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becomes famous years after its initial failure. This was a book called The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, a book about Hollywood, more or less a precursor of a type of book that later became very popular--frank and taking all of the glamour out of Hollywood and showing the seamy side of it. It wasn't exactly a failure, but it didn't make any money. It got some interesting reviews. The stature of that book has kept growing and growing. Today it's considered almost a classic. Nathanael West of course had a career cut short by the fact that he was killed in an automobile accident. He married Ruth McKenny's sister Eileen, later the heroine of her book, and the play starring Rosalind Russell.


How do you decide, from a publishing point of view on a book such as that, when to remainder it?


We didn't print enough of The Day of the Locust to make a remainder of it! It was a small edition. But now its included in a volume of all Nat West's writings.

Another interesting thing happened about this time. It concerns Dashiell Hammett, who is the father to me of the modern detective story.... I think that all Raymond Chandler and the James Bond stories followed Dash Hammett. Well, Hammett had a great fight with Alfred Knopf who had published all of his books, notably The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Remember that we did not own Knopf at that time of course. Knopf was then a very important contemporary

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