May 3, 2005

Golden age or no, Wasserman moves on . . .


It’s been rumored for months, but now it appears official: “Sources at the L.A. Times confirm the buzz that Steve Wasserman is out as editor of the LAT Book Review,” according to an LA Observed report by Kevin Roderick (himself a former LAT editor). Roderick reports that Wasserman “informed his staff on Friday, after having a discussion with editor John Carroll about his waning independence.” Wasserman, who had run the section since 1996, “has been known to be unhappy about the level of scrutiny he receives from Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio and Associate Editor of Features Tim Rutten,” says Roderick. “Some sources say the meeting with Carroll was essentially an ultimatum, with Wasserman needing to hear that he would be free to run the Book Review as he saw fit. He didn’t hear that, so he resigned . . . ” No word yet on candidates to replace Wasserman (although former San Francisco Chronicle book editor and L.A. native son David Kipen is no doubt in the running). Meanwhile, a follow-up report last night from PW Daily reporter Steve Zeitchik (unavailable as a free link) says “As for Wasserman’s future, the rumor mill is already churning, with one source confirming the juicy bit that he is considering becoming an agent.” Wasserman was last seen in New York just last month, at the gathering of the National Book Critics Circle, when he responded to a comment by MobyLives editor Dennis Loy Johnson, who, during a panel discussion, had said that he “didn’t think this was the greatest period in the history of American fiction.” Wasserman countered that he considered it “a golden age of American fiction.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives