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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Sandomir’

The Postmortem Robert Ludlum Cottage Industry

Spy thriller master Robert Ludlum may have died in 2001, but as the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir discovered, that hasn’t stopped publishers from releasing books – a dozen so far – with his name on the cover. 2006 alone saw three Ludlum-branded works: ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE MOSCOW VECTOR, isxth in the “Covert-One” series of paperback originals; THE BANCROFT STRATEGY, and THE BOURNE BETRAYAL, written by Eric Van Lustbader.

“This goes back to 1990 or ’91 when Bob had quadruple bypass,” said Henry Morrison, the agent for Ludlum and his estate. “One day we were talking about what would happen when he was gone. He said, ‘I don’t want my name to disappear. I’ve spent 30 years writing books and building an audience.’” And so the V.C. Andrews-like effect began with writers fleshing out old manuscripts and proposals or as in the Bourne series, extending an already-classic series. “Publishing does look to the past to see what will work in the future,” said PW editor-in-chief Sara Nelson. “Series and big-name authors have tended to work well. Publishers, like executives in other creative fields, want Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to work as well as No. 1. And instead of going off to find the new Ludlum, they figure they’ve got this formula and will continue to use it.”

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Mickey Mantle’s Literary Allure

However Peter Golenbock’s 7 fares – and so far, its prognosis isn’t very good for initial, let alone continued success – it’s just the latest in a long line of books devoted to all things Mickey Mantle, as the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir discovers. The first, an “autobiography” of the young Mick as told to Ben Epstein, was published way back in 1953. 20 books have followed since. So what is the attraction?

“Mickey’s kind of like Abe Lincoln; he keeps catching people,” said Robert W. Creamer, who wrote and researched the 1964 book THE QUALITY OF COURAGE, a collection of inspirational stories, for Mantle. “He was, in a way, a kind of perfect American,” added David Falkner, the author of THE LAST HERO: THE LIFE OF MICKEY MANTLE which came out soon after his subject’s death in 1995. “So vulnerable, so innocent, and he could not hide who he was, which was both beautiful and horrible.”

Whatever the case (I’m not so sure about calling Mantle “innocent” but do accept there are greater emotional truths at work) it seems likely the definitive word may rest with Jane Leavy, currently researching a biography of Mantle (slated for eventual publication by HarperCollins, which dropped 7 like a hot potato until The Lyons Press picked it back up.) “Jane’s job is challenging because we know so much about Mickey,” said Marty Appel, former New York Yankees public relations officer and a connoisseur and collector of what Sandomir cringingly dubs “MickLit”. “But he will always fascinate us, because he wasn’t what we believed him to be in the first place, but when we found out more about him, we loved him all over again.”