Yesterday morning, news reached me that the woman who had picked me from a pile of obscurity had died. 92 year-old Ruth Cavin, the legendary Ruth, who started her career at the age of sixty and overnight seized the heart of the publishing industry; whose eye went to the essence of a book’s strengths—and weaknesses; who held court at conferences by claiming a table at the bar, cigarette and drink to hand, while attendees came and paid homage; who made her writers feel loved even as her editorial pencil left them bleeding.
Ruth, publishing’s grandmother, the kind of woman you just knew had A History, the kind of woman who would toss off a remark that made you do a double take, because she looked far too innocent to have said that. The kind of woman who could be a lady and have a wicked sense of humor.
The kind of woman we need more of, and now have one less of.
Blessings, Ruth. I can just hear that great laugh of yours, when St. Peter grins at you from the pearly gates and says, “Of course you can smoke here, for God’s sake! Would you like a drink as well? And not to hurry you, but once you’re settled in, we’ve got all these great young writers…”