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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Q:

Going back to the Smith & Haas merger--let's talk about William Faulkner.

Cerf:

One of the greatest, most distinguished men I ever met, Bill Faulkner. He was very short and distinguished looking. He wore quite sloppy old clothes, but they were all made in England. He was a country gentleman. I loved him. I remember when we celebrated his coming with Random House. Hal Smith was one of his great friends. They used to get drunk together. I must tell you a bit more about Hal Smith--two things he did in the year he was with us. When he left and we moved his desk, we found three manuscripts under his desk. They had fallen there and Hal never realized he had lost them. Meanwhile, the authors were understandably outraged. Another day three people arrived simultaneously for lunch. He had made three lunch dates, and they all came together. Hal was not at all put out by this, and neither, to tell the truth, were the dates. They simply laughed and said, “Well, that's Hal Smith for you.”

Then there was a time Hal was in talking to me and thought he was putting a cigarette in his mouth, and it was a fountain pen! I stopped him just about as he was to light the fountain pen.

At the end of a year we all agreed that things were getting too hectic at Random House for Hal Smith. He liked a leisurely pace, and by this time we were very much on the move. We were going places.



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