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Saturday, March 19, 2016

John Higgs on the new book about Robert Anton Wilson


John Higgs

In case you missed it in the comments, here is what Timothy Leary biographer John Higgs had to say about the announcement of a new book about Robert Anton Wilson. (A commenter had suggested Higgs should write the book).

"I'm very excited to hear this. And thanks for that thought Fyrefly, though I've long been of the opinion that a RAW biography needs to be written by an American, if only for practical reasons - it would need a lot of interviews and hanging out with those who knew him, I think, to capture him properly. What I couldn't understand was, with over 300 million Americans, why was it taking so long for one to step up? So, I'm really happy to hear this, I like the title very much, I confess I don't know anything about the guy writing it but can't wait to see what they come up with - and I'll be pre-ordering this as soon as!"


Oz Fritz said...

I expect we will see multiple biographies, commentaries, and forays into RAW exegesis over time. He seems too large for any one person to completely cover. The full story of RAW, his work and legacy will get pieced together by many people I predict.

Sue Howard said...

Yes, and although the bigger, more respectable publishers tend to reach a wider audience (a good thing), I guess the more interesting perspectives will remain (as least for a while) as "fringe", "outsider" views with relatively few readers.

And as my colleague, Brian Dean (of Anxiety Culture & News Frames) pointed out to me, there's already a nice manifestion of irony here wrt RAW & respectable publishers, in this case TarcherPenguin (publisher of the new RAW biog) - as can be seen from RAW's comments in his second preface to Prometheus Rising:

"The first publisher to whom I submitted it, Jeremy Tarcher, held it for a full year of meditation before rejecting it; his only explanation for the rejection concerned the mixture of technologese and "counter culture" slang that has since become my most frequent style in nonfiction. [...] A month later, I heard from Tarcher again: he had changed his mind and decided he wanted the book after all. I was in one of my periods of acute poverty then (something that happens periodically to all freelance writers) and it was with great effort that I refrained from telling Mr. Tarcher to go fuck himself."

(Jeremy Tarcher, it should be noted, isn't involved in the new book deal - he died in 2015 - although TarcherPenguin was his imprint).

Chad N. said...

I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of publishing at all. Why are they allowed to hold an author's work in limbo like that for so long? Because they're negotiating from a much stronger position than most authors? Can an author demand his work back and decline? Are authors allowed to submit to many publishers at the same time and say "first come first served?"

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