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on 2 February 2014
This is a great book. Mailer was a great man. Lennon had great access. He has written it as it was and it’s a great story. I read this on my Kindle, entranced from the start. With Mailer, the life and the work hold equal status. Your are stretched to say which is more exciting. Lennon gives us the whole Mailer. The books, the brawls, the sex, the films, the journalism, the wives, the TV appearances, the children, the politics.
The stabbing.
But he brings us back all the time to the books, from Naked onwards, this is a story about stories and how they came to be published. And that is where I have a big problem. As I read this, I naturally wanted not just to read about Mailer but to read his words. The Naked and the Dead and The Deer Park are on Kindle (and some later stuff). But not The Armies of the Night; not Miami and the Siege of Chicago; not The Time of Our Time. Why not? I asked. The reply was: “the Kindle Store is provided to us directly by the publishers or authors who own that content. Availability of the books in Kindle version, completely depends on the publishers or authors.”
So is that it? I imagined something different. I thought someone at Kindle might have thought – we’ve got a major biography of a great writer coming out….. our readers will want to know more…let’s move heaven and earth make to sure we have his books….flattering letters to his children…. long boozy lunches with publishers…..fat cheques… whatever it takes. But no: “availability of the books in Kindle version, completely depends on the publishers or authors.”
That’s not how it used to be. . Everyone who works in publishing should read Lennon’s book. It is an eye-watering tale of excess in a good cause. In his pomp, Mailer needed 750,000 dollars a year – and he got it. There were million dollar advances for books that came in years late, grossly overwritten. There were massive fees for what from anyone else would be regarded as pieces of journalism. But what books and what pieces they were!
Worth the money? Yes. And there’s a message there for publishers. Don’t look at the bottom line. Don’t listen to your readers. Pick someone you think is good. Someone who can be a hero and a prophet. And throw a million dollars at them.
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on 21 August 2014
Another book given as a birthday present and well received.
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