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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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were showing our marked lack of enthusiasm for this expanded story of his. We published a book by one of his good friends named Peter Matthieson called At Play in the Fields of the Lord. It was very well reviewed, a great literary success, although the sales were below our expectations. It was a distinguished publication. In fact, I thought that it was going to win the National Book Award, and it came very close to it. Irwin was jealous because we made a great fuss over Peter Matthieson. He was a new addition to the Random House list. Irwin said, “You're like every other publisher. The new one gets all the attention.” Well, I had gone through this with Billy Rose, I told you, with Simon and Schuster. I understood all of this--his jealousy of Peter Matthieson, and especially since the Matthieson book I thought was top drawer and Irwin's I thought was third-rate.

Well, he got the whopping advance from Dell. They brought out the book, and it was murdered. I was childish enough to feel justified--and pleased. It was a colossal flop. They took a terrible shellacking on it, as indeed they've done with James Jones too. He and Irwin are great friends, and I think that it may have been Jones who put Irwin up to the whole affair. Jones did the same thing with his publisher, Scribner's. Irwin did it first because I remember that Jones later got so much more than Irwin that Irwin immediately became unhappy with Dell. Of course he hasn't written the novel yet and all this took place two years ago. When, and if, he ever does--well, you win some and you lose some.

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