Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Controversial Mickey Mantle Book Due Out This Spring

"7: A Mickey Mantle Novel" was the straw that broke the camel's back for bottom-feeding but very commercially successful publisher Judith Regan. She was fired when the Mantle book created an uproar on the heels of her sleazy OJ Simpson sort-of-tell-all-with-my-fingers-crossed book. Now Publishers Weekly says the Mantle book is coming out this spring exactly as it was and they even include a review of its lazy, lame "revelations." Personally, I don't understand why anyone is paying the slightest bit of attention to it. It begins with Mantle in heaven talking about old times, so it's clearly not intended to be a serious biography. It has Mantle telling crude jokes, sleeping with Marilyn Monroe and so on -- but since it's all sheer speculation not worth taking seriously and certainly isn't presented in a serious manner, who cares? Do I want to read it? No. Does it besmirch the name of the Mick? Only if you think fictional works that have zero relation to reality actually matter. If this were EL Doctorow presenting Mantle as a foul figure, I could understand commenting. But even then, I don't go to Doctorow to get my history. Why would anyone who likes the Mick given "7" a second thought, much less free publicity by condemning it?

3 comments:

Sam said...

If it's possible, I'm even less inclined to pay attention to this than you are, and it's because of the author, not the publishing house.

It was with great anticipation that I picked up Peter Golenbock's oral history of the New York Mets a few years ago. I was slighty skeptical because of vague criticisms of his earlier work (I think I remember Keith Olbermann, for example, saying that a book called Personal Fouls, about N.C. State basketball, played loose with the facts). But I'm a pretty big Mets fan, so there was no way I wasn't going to check it out.

The Mets book turned me off on his work for good. It's presented as an oral history - the compilation of the thoughts and recollections of others on the history of the team - but to me that's no excuse for the sloppiness I found. Factual errors (including the misspelling of the name of somebody he was thanking in the acknowledgements), mistaken references to specific games played, and just plain lifting of material from other published work and included as the memories of certain people. It's stated as such, but it still kinda felt cheap to me. I don't know if this is common practice in the "oral history" biz, but to me it came off as less than a full effort.

(As an addendum . . . One of his next works was a similar project on the history of the college football program at the University of Florida. I'm an alum, and I know people who cover the team, so again I had interest. This time I didn't buy - just browsed in the bookstore. Found two or three factual problems in a five-minute span. Yeesh.)

Give this guy the additional cloak of a "fictionalized memoir" or whatever the heck it's supposed to be, and no telling what's going to be in there. You might as well have Mantle working as a Russian secret agent in the '50s. I don't know why anyone will bother.

I'm sure the brouhaha will sell an extra few books, though. Ugh.

Michael in New York said...

Hey Sam,

I didn't realize this was the same guy/hack you'd told me about before. That makes this ALL the more hilarious and bottom-feeding to me. Clearly it's not entertaining enough as a novel and not convincing enough as a biography. But it might be fun to expose him as a lazy, lame reporter. Except that would involve reading those works. I wonder how much his advance is? I'm sure he got to keep whatever six figure (or more) amount Regan threw at him since they cut the book without cause. Aaargh, indeed.

Sam said...

One more note:

The author apparently lives here in St. Petersburg, which means that anytime he's got somethng going on, it makes the local papers.

(Although, oddly, I can't recall seeing much here about the new Mantle stories, except wireservice stuff).

Both the Mets and UF books were reviewed positively here. Not sure if anybody else even noticed them. This one no doubt will get more attention because of the approach and the subject matter. Wonder how it'll hold up to the scrutiny...