Jon-Jon Goulian, the bewildering intellectual androgyne who spent four years assisting Bob Silvers at the New York Review of Books, has sold a memoir to Random House for what a publishing source said was a sum in the high six figures.
Executive editor Kate Medina acquired the book in a preempt; literary agents Edward Orloff and Sarah Chalfant of The Wylie Agency, who submitted the proposal to several houses around town before receiving Ms. Medina’s offer, brokered the deal.
Mr. Orloff said Mr. Goulian’s book is tentatively titled The Man In the Gray Flannel Skirt: A Memoir Of Androgyny, presumably a reference to his days as a cross-dresser.
Though he hails from La Jolla, Calif. and looks more like a street-tough surfer than a member of New York’s delicate and droopy intelligentsia-in-training, Mr. Goulian’s menacing tattoos, skin-tight tanktops, and frenetic manner have made him one of the most recognizable unknowns in New York letters. And although he has never published a book and has been more or less unemployed since he left the New York Review in 2005, he has achieved nothing short of iconic status in the publishing community here.
Mr. Goulian–who has a law degree from N.Y.U. and is the grandson of the pragmatist philosopher Sidney Hook!–would not comment on the book or his contract with Random House, saying that he has not finished writing it yet.
Mr. Silvers, whom Mr. Goulian worked for at the New York Review from 2001 until 2005, was not aware of his former assistant’s book deal when reached by phone this afternoon.
"Jon-Jon was one of the most brilliant people who ever worked here," he said. "He had tremendous energy and curiosity and also analytic ability. I was sad when he left. He said he was going off to write a book."