"When we began writing, publishing was a cottage industry," says Doctorow, 70. "Now, the big conglomerates have taken over." "In our days," adds the 73-year-old Matthiessen with a grin, "people who were crazy about books smoked pipes, drank too much, had a good time and talked about books all the time. Publishers would publish poetry because they believed in it. Now it is so much about making money." The American publishing industry is centred around the bottomline and it's not bibliophiles but the money-men who are in charge of books. "The book market is degraded," Doctorow says. "It's not a healthy situation."
In India to visit Ranthambhor on a nature expedition, Doctorow and Matthiessen are old friends who live and work in New York and share a love of the subtleties of the natural world and their healing effect on the fractured modern individual. They are authors of several books and novels each. Doctorow's most recent is City of God. Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse has had to fight the longest libel suit in history. The FBI and the Governor of Dakota sued him for $49 million, although the case is now over.