After working as an editor for a small yet prestigious publishing house in New York for four years, Tim Craire receives a request from the publisher to edit and prepare for publication a novel featuring Huckleberry Finn as a slave trader. A few more reimaginings of literary classics get Tim thinking that White Cedar Press is attempting to start a new, quirky trend, but soon he fears the worst: the head honcho is starting to go a bit mad, and he will likely take the press down with him.
From New York to New Zealand to Miami, Tim begrudgingly follows his boss’s wishes, conversing with authors regarding their work, questioning coworkers, and attempting to piece together the implications of White Cedar Press’s turn for the worse—implications for both the company and for Tim’s own future.
Though the young editor is simultaneously working on writing his own fantasy novel and struggling through a complicated relationship, his loyalty remains with White Cedar Press, even through its usual transformation. Tim continues to obey his orders and work on these humorous, borderline-offensive projects, though he feels like the odd one out as his colleagues jump aboard the press’s changing bandwagon. Questioning authority (aloud) is not Tim’s strong suit. Tim often feels as though he’s the only one driving the right way down a one-way street, but, as it turns out, some of the odd books begin to sell decently well. Perhaps their creativity is what grabs an audience.
White Cedar Press is a well-written and delightful—though not revolutionary—comment on the current publishing climate. Like the future of the publishing industry, the novel’s ending is a bit vague, leaving the reader wishing it to be a bit more defined. The humor and frustration along the way to this end, however, makes for an entertaining read. Readers with knowledge of the publishing industry will get more out of the book than those without.