While reading the obituary for publisher Simon Michael Bessieâ€”who edited writers including Daniel J. Boorstin, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Kenneth Tynan, and Elie Wieselâ€”Izzy came across this passage about Bessie’s attempt to track down John Cheever, the novelist and chronicler of a vanishing WASP world:
As Susan Cheever recounts it in a memoir of her father, â€œHome Before Darkâ€ (1984), Mr. Cheever had offered the novel to Random House in 1954, but the publisher turned it down. In despair, he rented a house that summer on Nantucket Island, took his family there and continued working on the novel. One day, as Cheever was staring out the window, a sailing yacht appeared in the harbor and dropped anchor. A man in white flannels and a double-breasted blazer was rowed ashore in a dinghy and announced in the voice of a literate aristocrat to the small crowd that had gathered to greet him, â€œIâ€™m looking for John Cheever.â€
â€œIt was Simon Michael Bessie,â€ Ms. Cheever writes, â€œa senior editor at Harper & Row, and he had come to buy â€˜The Wapshot Chronicle.â€™ â€
It’s worth noting that although Bessie was not himself a WASP, he clearly knew how to dress the part.