Fremont-Smith, Eliot 1929–2007

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Fremont-Smith, Eliot 1929–2007

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born April 16, 1929, in Cambridge, MA; died of heart failure, September 5, 2007, in Mount Pleasant, NC. Literary critic, book editor, and newspaper journalist. Fremont-Smith was best known as the book critic for the New York Times Book Review in the 1960s and the Village Voice from 1975 to 1984, for which he wrote the weekly column "Making Book." For the former he expanded the scope of book reviews to include works considered at the time to be at or beyond the edge of decency, such as the erotic novel The Story of O or Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge, the story of a transsexual. At the Village Voice he created a scandal in 1975 when he published an article accusing Polish Holocaust survivor and best-selling author Jerzy Kosinski of plagiarism, using uncredited ghostwriters, and having clandestine links to the Central Intelligence Agency. Fremont-Smith also worked as an editor in chief of the publishing company of Little, Brown and as a senior editor of Saturday Review. Behind the scenes, Fremont-Smith was instrumental in the founding the National Book Critics Circle in 1974; he held occasional board positions until 1994 and also served as the organization's president. He felt strongly that the book publishing industry needed a critical body whose mission and awards program would be based on a book's literary value, not its success at the cash register. Even further behind the scenes, in his personal life Fremont-Smith worked for nearly twenty years as a substance abuse counselor.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2007, p. B9.

New York Times, September 7, 2007, p. C14; October 4, 2007, p. A2.