The highly-respected editor-at-large at Knopf, Fisketjon is famous in publishing circles both for his editing talent and for his association with the '80s literary "brat pack" that gave us Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis.
Raised on a mink farm in Salem, Oregon, Fisketjon had to feed and clean up after the animals as a kid ("great training for publishing," he once said), before attending Williams College, where he worked on the campus lit mag with classmate and friend Jay McInerney. After graduation, Fisketjon enrolled in a summer publishing course at Radcliffe College—where he happened to sit next to, and befriend, Morgan Entrekin—then headed for New York and landed his first job at William Morrow, earning all of $4,000 per year. In 1980 he moved to Random House (among his colleagues: future Farrar, Straus & Giroux head Jonathan Galassi), where he was promoted to editor of Vintage Contemporaries in 1984. The imprint was launched on his, and Vintage's, 30th birthday, and he built his reputation publishing literary fiction (such as the imprint's first original title, McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City) as paperback originals—then, and still, considered radical. In 1986, Fisketjon and McInerney went to Atlantic Monthly Press; four years later, Fisketjon decamped for Random House and he's been an editor for Sonny Mehta's Knopf ever since.
Fisketjon's professional life has always been inseparable from his social life due to the fact that his best friends, like McInerney and Ellis, are also his authors. The literary "brat pack" that surrounded Fisketjon and dominated the '80s New York party scene is still talked about ("anyone living in Greenwich Village with a manuscript could get lunch with a power agent and a profile in New York" hyperbolized a journalist recently), although Entrekin says that "Gary wasn't as wild as we were. He was less tolerant of the shallow and superficial. You couldn't produce the body of work he has if you were staying out all night." And an impressive body of work it indeed is: In the course of his career Fisketjon has edited Tobias Wolff, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt, Patricia Highsmith, Andre Dubus, Martha Gellhorn, and Cormac McCarthy, to name just a few.
Known for his uniform of cowboy boots, jeans, snap-button Western shirts, and an omnipresent unfiltered Camel, Fisketjon is a regular at Gallagher's, the old-time steakhouse near Times Square.
Mrs. Fisketjon is Diana Howard; the couple splits their time between New York and a farm outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
A green pen, rather than the usual red or blue, is the editor's choice for scribbling on manuscripts.