Political and Literary Omnivore Steve Wasserman Releases a New Memoir-in-Essays

This exhilarating journey through the world of books penned by a “treasure of American letters” provokes and delights.

ON-SALE: October 8, 2024

BERKELEY, CALIF. — During his decades-long career in publishing, Steve Wasserman has worn nearly every possible hat in the industry—editor, agent, reviewer, literary festival co-founder, publisher—serving as a midwife to the art and ideas of some of the most influential cultural juggernauts of recent decades, from Linda Ronstadt to the late Christopher Hitchens. This fall, this literary tastemaker dons his author’s cap for the first time in book form to publish an engrossing new memoir-in-essays, Tell Me Something, Tell Me Anything, Even If It’s a Lie (on sale October 8, 2024).

Lauded by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Héctor Tobar, Joyce Carol Oates, Vivian Gornick, and Hilton Als (to name just a few), this book encompasses Wasserman’s superbly turned hot takes, ranging from the frontlines of progressive politics to the higher gossip of the literati. The intellectual terrain within his orbit is as capacious as its geography—with deep-dive spannings from the readerly culture of Los Angeles to the art of the Russian avant-garde and featuring cameos from a constellation of extraordinary cultural figures—Susan Sontag, Orson Welles, Barbra Streisand, and Gore Vidal among them.

With his trademark wit, Wasserman reflects on the vitality of activism, journalism, and the world of books in this perceptive book. As a man of letters presiding over the twilight of the Age of Print, he interrogates the hegemony of Amazon, the collapse of newspapers, and the consequences of both for our civic discourse. Part archive, part crystal ball, these essays (originally published in the Nation, the American Conservative, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere) afford a view into a life lived on the crest of major cultural turning points for both medium and message. Throughout the tumult—whether of industry or politics—Wasserman’s stalwart conviction of the transformative potential of the written word never wavers, a devotion evident on every page.

“Getting to be an author’s first critic, helping to craft and hone arguments,” writes Wasserman, “to find ways to cut through the noise of the culture and get attention for deserving work, to advance public understanding and deepen civic conversation—all this has been my life’s passion.”

Advance Praise for Tell Me Something, Tell Me Anything, Even If It's a Lie

“Steve Wasserman is so open to experience—so open and articulate about history, and the new—that to not follow his quicksilver intelligence and bountiful heart in these wonderful pages would be criminal. Read, reflect, and rejoice in the bounty. What a gift.” 


“If ever a man was in love with The Movement—that is, the peace and liberationist movements of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s—that man is Steve Wasserman. This collection of essays, in all its intelligent exuberance, pays full respect to that honorable devotion.” 


“It’s such a pleasure to see the cream of Steve Wasserman’s writings now collected. He is, as he says of his late friend Susan Sontag, an ‘omnivore’—about politics, about literature, and about the way the rebellious currents he first encountered in 1960s Berkeley have continued to ripple through American life. The resulting volume is a feast.” 


“Steve Wasserman’s wit and passions are on full display in this collection of fine essays, crammed full of insights and anecdotes from several (apparently very fun) decades in the literary world. A troublemaker of the good kind since his youth, Wasserman continues to inspire with his vigorous dedication to the life of the mind, exhibited with clarity and grace in this book.” 


“An intensely personal, engaging, and illuminating memoir in the form of essays published over fifty years, Tell Me Something, Tell Me Anything, Even If It’s a Lie is a richly detailed account of the intellectual life of an individual upon whom, to paraphrase Henry James, ‘nothing has been lost.’ Highly recommended.” 


“A passionate witness of the upheavals of the past five decades that guided America to places unimagined before, Steve Wasserman’s clear and sober reflections remind us how much in this history there is to discover and to honor.” 


“With its deeply human portraits and incisive criticism, Tell Me Something, Tell Me Anything, Even If It’s a Lie is a record of a personal and intellectual journey like few others. Steve Wasserman is a treasure of American letters and his book is a testament, above all, to a literary life lived to the fullest.”


Media Contact:
Kalie Caetano
Marketing & Publicity Director, Heyday

For review copiesfeature interest, and interview and image requests, get in touch: publicity@heydaybooks.com.

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Steve Wasserman is publisher of Heyday. A 1974 graduate of UC Berkeley, he holds a degree in criminology. His past positions include being deputy editor of the op-ed page and opinion section of the Los Angeles Times; editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review; editorial director of New Republic Books; publisher and editorial director of Hill and Wang at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and of the Noonday Press; editorial director of Times Books at Random House; and editor at large for Yale University Press. A former partner of the literacy agency Kneerim & Williams, he represented many authors, including Christopher Hitchens, Linda Ronstadt, Robert Scheer, and David Thomson. He lives in Berkeley, California.