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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Q:

Do you remember what they were?

Cerf:

Yes. The first one was a book by Adria Locke Langley. It was about Huey Long. Next to the magnificent book by Robert Penn Warren on the same subject, All the King's Men, this was awful. A Lion in the Streets I think this was called. It became an enormous best-seller. I looked at the reader's report, which was done by a very good girl that was with us at the time, and her report for us consisted of one sentence: “Forty pages of this magnolia laden crap was all that I could stand.” So I called her in and said that in the future I would take care of the humor at Random House and that I wanted more detailed reports. “But,” I said, “From what I've seen of the book, you're absolutely right.”

Q:

What was number two? Do you remember?

Cerf:

Number two was a book by Lester Cohn. I forget its name. It was another inferior book. It didn't stay up there very long. It was number two for two or three weeks, but then faded fast.

I put a notice on a bulletin board that said, “Congratulations to our magnificent board of editors. We've turned down the number one and number two best-sellers on the Times list this week!" But every publisher has made similar mistakes. The Good Earth was turned down by about a dozen publishers. Bad Girl was turned down by about



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