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Russell Smith on sex and Canadian publishing

Globe and Mail columnist Russell Smith offers his thoughts on sex in Canadian publishing. His conclusion? Despite the fact that it is full of “totally unbelievable hotties,” overall the industry is surprisingly chaste.

The author of six works of fiction (most recently the novel Girl Crazy), Smith goes on to congratulate himself for having resisted the temptations of so many “gorgeous 32-year-olds with graduate degrees from McGill” over the years: “I have never in my whole career made a real pass at one of my colleagues or, I think, been flirtatious to the point of making someone seriously worried about my attention. Even when I was single.”

While Smith’s column is an amusing look at the relationship between an author and his publishing team, it’s most scathing in pointing out the power relationships inside publishing houses that lead to gender imbalances:

It’s an unusual industry: one dominated by highly educated and intelligent women, many of them young. Most of the high-up executives on the commercial side of publishing are still men. The literary side is female. Most of the editors-in-chief of the major publishing houses are women; most of the publicists are women; almost all the agents are women; the powerful CBC Radio programs that discuss books are hosted by women; most of the readers are women; the single powerful bookstore chain in the country is run by a woman. And it is a highly social industry, because social events promote books: Anyone who works for a publishing house must attend, as part of work, frequent evening book launches, book fairs and literary festivals, and they are all soaked in booze. So are most of the writers.