In 2009 Richard Pollak finished writing After the Barn, the family memoir he’d begun some 20 years earlier. Twice he set the project aside to write—and publish—other books: The Creation of Dr. B, a biography of Bruno Bettelheim; and The Colombo Bay, an account of life on a container ship as it sailed from Hong Kong to New York by way of the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal.

After the Barn was a smaller book, a more personal book, the kind of book publishers don’t know how to promote even though readers often find them deeply gratifying. I’m one of those readers, and I wrote at length about Pollak’s memoir on the Bleader earlier this week. This post isn’t about the book; it’s about what happened after he finally finished writing it.

Nobody wanted to publish it.

What about Simon & Schuster? S&S brought out Dr. B and Columbo Bay, and his editor there liked the early pages of After the Barn that Pollak showed her.