With a week to go before Frankfurt, Adam Gauntlett of the U.K.-based Peters Fraser & Dunlop is selling a book that offers a unique insight into the life and career of Bob Dylan, by the man who was his friend, confidant and tour manager.
North American rights have already been snapped up by George Witte of St Martin's Press. A U.K. deal is expected this week, and eight publishers are looking at the proposal. Rachel Mills, PFD's International rights director, is reporting "tons of international interest", with particular excitement in France and Germany. A Danish offer has already been tabled.
The book is a memoir by Victor Maymudes, a legendary figure in Dylan circles who first met the young singer-songwriter in the Gaslight Café, Greenwich Village, in 1961. Daniel Kramer's celebrated photo shows them playing chess in Woodstock, N.Y. there were frequent all-night sessions, with Dylan reported as being an excellent tactician.
Another Side of Bob Dylan is based on tapes recorded by Maymudes as the basis for a book begun in 2000 and bought by Witte, then as now at St Martin's, for £100,000. But Maymudes - who in 1955 opened a coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard that quickly became the epicentre of the burgeoning west coast counterculture - died suddenly following an aneurysm before he could complete the manuscript. His son Jacob, then 21, who personally removed the life support, was devastated, too broken to return to the project. Then, in January this year, the family home burned down, and among the very few items salvaged from the charred wreckage was a box containing the tapes: "Twenty-four hours of personal stories, philosophy, ideology and more importantly his voice had survived. That was my tipping point and I would decide in the months to come to finish his book," writes Jacob in the introduction to the outline, seen by BookBrunch. He would do it "not for financial gain, not for vanity, for one simple reason: so I could show my kids who their grandfather was and the slice of history he had a had in."
Gauntlett, whose first book project this is (he holds PFD's theatre portfolio), first spotted the story online, a piece in Rolling Stone which told of Jacob's attempt to raise funds for the project via Kickstarter. He told BookBrunch that Maymudes was keen to retain control of the project and to write the book he felt his father had wanted to write. "I got in touch, we talked and I persuaded him that he would be able to keep creative control." Maymudes is now writing at his home in LA, and the plan is to publish next autumn, the fiftieth anniversary of Dylan's album Another Side of Bob Dylan. It is not yet known whether Dylan will write a foreword, but Gauntlett said that key figures in the story would be approached.
There are a great many such figures (among them Baez, whose first concert he promoted; Dennis Hopper; even a young Meg Ryan), for the book is not simply about Dylan - it will in a sense read like a group biography in the style of, say, Carolyn Cassady's Off the Road: Twenty Years with Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg. It is the story of a particular time told by one man who had a very particular take on the era and on the shaping forces of a generation.
In addition to the audiotapes, there are "cans and cans" of 8mm film footage shot by Maymudes, most of it previously unseen, which his son intends will form the basis of a documentary. Rights for that are being handled by Jonathan Sissons at PFD.
The book, "by Victor Maymudes and co-written and edited by Jacob Maymudes," will run to some 80,000 words and will contain several plate sections. Its announcement comes at a time when interest in the Greenwich Village era generally is about to be boosted by the new Coen Brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, due for U.K. release before the end of the year.
Maymudes' trailer for the book can be seen here.