How He Really Felt
Speculation about money and skepticism about a theatrical release—both were on insiders' tongues after the Public Affairs/ Universal deal for Mark Felt's memoir last week. PA is famous for paying little, after all, and some Hollywood insiders said the deal felt more TV movie than theatrical. Less discussed: what's actually covered in the Mark Felt—John O'Connor manuscript David Kuhn circulated.
So what will the man who exposed the president be exposing? Judging from a manuscript obtained by PW, not what you'd expect. It takes its time getting to Felt's thoughts on Watergate, addressing it directly well past the 100-page mark.
Instead, it's a history of the FBI and its contentious relationship with the president, going back to JFK. It shows a man fiercely devoted to the FBI ideal; a man eager to clear his name on the wiretapping scandal; and a lifetime D.C.-er not shy about calling out government persecution. (He says it "caus[ed] the early death of his beloved wife, Audrey, and countless years of stress.") In the not-a-joke department, the manuscript was titled Sore Throat: Why a Top FBI Official Risked His Career, Became Deep Throat, Saved His Country and Then Got Indicted.
The style is unusual, alternating between O'Connor and Felt passages, the latter in italics. The manuscript credits Felt for "help[ing] invent modern investigative reporting." But "for all these efforts, he was harassed, investigated and convicted by the justice system he so courageously helped preserve." And liberal cheerleaders take note: Felt thinks post-Watergate " 'reform' was a dismantling, in the name of civil liberties," of intelligence operations "that may well have prevented the senseless 9/11 tragedy."
And the Children Shall Spill the Beans
From Susan Cheever to Anne Sexton, famous-author offspring have told their family stories—and worked out their issues—through the publishing process. Now comes Bernard Malamud's daughter. Houghton's Janet Silver has already done two books on psychoanalysis by Janna Malamud Smith, but Malamud the younger is finally ready to tell how My Father Is a Book. Silver says it will include revelations about the accomplished but devastatingly depressing author, including an affair with a younger woman and the mental illness of his mother and brother. "He's a child of immigrants, and carrying [his] burdens put enormous strains on his own life," says Silver. In other words, it's more The Natural the book than The Natural the film.
Here's What He Thinks
Can we just interrupt this column for a second to say that Chris Matthews has signed a new two-book-deal with Random? Okay, we won't channel the voice of the TV host (too much); we'll simply say that he leaves Dominick Anfuso and the Free Press (which helped make him an author powerhouse) to go with new Random hire Susan Mercandetti for a twofer. Matthews's last book was an ode to U.S. icons; the next one looks at influence and persuasion through personalities like Ronald Reagan and Barbara Boxer; agent Rafe Sagalyn describes it as "Personal Hardball." Mercandetti picks up where she left off at Miramax and shows she can bring home the celebrity bacon without Weinstein backing.
And speaking of people who left the Free Press, Rachel Klayman has gotten in on the class act. The Crown editor has bought the primevally titled Drink, Pray, Fight, Fuck:Dispatches from America's Class Wars, which blogger Joe Bageant fills with observations and tales of how most Americans really spend their lives. The love-child of Barbara Ehrenreich and Hunter Thompson is how Klayman describes the voice.... Ecco's Dan Halpern hasn't forgotten his small-press roots, buying reprint rights to a book about ethics and the brain from Dana Press.... One of Bill Clegg's former clients, Haven Kimmel, has a new agent and deal: Christopher Schelling of Ralph Vicinanza sold a sequel to A Girl Named Zippy that tracks more adventures of the author's eccentric mother. This item also involves the Free Press, where Amy Scheibe acquired.