The biggest lie

by Kelvin Smith

Without lingering on the plot line of Luke Brown’s My Biggest Lie, the insider will be gratified to find a host of publishing stereotypes from the past and present. Women, if they are powerful like CEO Belinda Wardour, are shrouded in “a cloud of exquisite perfume” ; if foreign they are “tall wonderful-looking women from the Netherlands and Germany, from France and Italy” ; if British they might be “eerily tall Oxbridge girls with skin so pale as to be translucent.” Older colleagues are “the publishing legends, the members-club raconteurs, the eccentric and the elegant, the sharks and the chic and the scouts and the Indians and auctioneers and the earnest-faced editors-who-really-edit, the recently-fired and recently-promoted, the recently dry and the recently high, the rehabbed, reformed, retweeted.” One suspects that most of these dinosaurs are white and male.

The novel also has a lot to say about drink, drugs and sex. Some current publishers might think they once had such exciting lives, and young turks might believe they are living this dream. New entrants into the business might be warned that publishing might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Luke Brown, My Biggest Lie, 2014