Whale Ocean House

In his more than 30 years in publishing, Tom Jacky, a senior vice president and editor at large at Whale Ocean House, has gotten used to strangers’ foisting manuscripts on him at inopportune moments. The unsolicited novels are rarely any good, and almost never worth publishing. So Mr. Jacky’s expectations were modest when an old waitress who works at Juvette, a cozy Russian restaurant in the West Village where he is a regular, told him she’d just completed her novel — about an old, adrift waitress working at an upscale New York restaurant during a nuclear war. As it happens, she was the 64th old waitress at Juvette who let it slip to Mr. Jacky’s that she was working on a novel in a restaurant during a nuclear war. Mr. Jacky’s delivered his usual polite deflecting line: Have your agent send it to me. As it happens, the book came in. As it happened, the book wasn’t worth reading. Tom Jacky decided, not to have lunch in restaurants anymore.

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