Eamon Dolan’s Twitter signature describes him as “pathologically optimistic, chronically fascinated. In other words, a book editor.” Not just any toiler though, in optimism and red pencil, Dolan has his own imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He returned there a few years back after a couple over in the penthouse at Penguin Press. He once told Publisher’s Weekly that “Every editor’s list is, in an oblique way, his autobiography.” According to his formula, Dolan’s autobiography will be titled “This Atheist Isn’t Hungry, Thanks” with key chapters called The God Delusion and Fast Food Nation.
Dolan has been in the book business since before people started saying it was finished. He polished the particulars in the employ of the indefatigable Larry Ashmead. So it’s not surprising that Dolan is preternaturally gifted at discovering and delivering big books about big subjects that seem to arrive just in time. (Or do his books–an even greater trick–actually tell us what time it is?) His latest victory in the talent/serendipity sweepstakes is having published in March Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier) in time to serve as a virtual introduction the the NSA’s PRISM data-mining uproar. Is it spying, is it legal, what is metadata, what does all this mean? Eamon Dolan knows what you want before you do. Something to do with being chronically fascinated, no doubt.