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Books I read as a child


Peter Mayer Publisher
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I had a lot of friends, they were the kids with whom I went to school. The school was about a mile… public school, the school up to the 8th grade, was about a mile from where we lived, and high school, where I went to until Columbia, was also in the other direction, about a mile and so we had some sequence of the boy who was furthest walking to school and picking up the next nearest to the school and finally we were five or six kids walking to school, and I did that in grade school and I did that in high school. And… and we played sports and chess, quite a bit of chess after school.  I shot baskets in the schoolyard too, I liked basketball, I wasn't particularly good at it, but I liked it and we did that too.

[Q] Were you a very… it sounds like you were an immaculately behaved child?

No, I wasn't, I was actually a very naughty child and I'm a very naughty man.  But there is some gyroscope in me that knows when to stop.  In other words, I always understood méchanterie. I could be naughty, but I knew when to stop the naughtiness just short of my mother being called to school to see the teacher or the principal.  I somehow understood limits, and I was aware of that.  Where you can do this and get away with it, it's wrong, but it's not very wrong, and you won't be punished very badly for it, and I just went to the edge of the mischievousness.  I was naughty, but not a bad boy. 

Peter Mayer (1936-2018) was an American independent publisher who was president of The Overlook Press/Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc, a New York-based publishing company he founded with his father in 1971. At the time of Overlook's founding, Mayer was head of Avon Books, a large New York-based paperback publisher. There, he successfully launched the trade paperback as a viable alternative to mass market and hardcover formats. From 1978 to 1996 he was CEO of Penguin Books, where he introduced a flexible style in editorial, marketing, and production. More recently, Mayer had financially revived both Ardis, a publisher of Russian literature in English, and Duckworth, an independent publishing house in the UK.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: school friends, sport, chess, naughtiness

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014-January 2015

Date story went live: 12 November 2015