January 28, 2011

Cat's out of the bag: "O" author revealed


Mark Salter

In case you still haven’t heard, Mark Salter is the author of O: A Presidential Novel.

Last week Page Six floated the Salter theory when someone–who apparently wished to remain anonymous themselves–told them it was Salter. Then yesterday Time‘s Mark Halperin connected all the dots that seemed to make it official for everyone: Jonathan Karp, Simon and Schuster publisher and biggest public spokesperson for the book, had worked with Salter on other books; Karp’s descriptions of the author matched Salter; Salter was the only person who gave a non-denial denial when asked; and apparently the author knew stuff only a McCain insider would know.

I know–ho hum, right?

Sure, officially it’s still an open question since Salter hasn’t fessed up. But as Alex Pareene at Salon asked, “why would he? The book has not been well-reviewed.” Which is a bit of an understatement. As I mentioned last week, the book has been trashed by just about every critic who’s cracked its spine. Would you want your name permanently affixed to the biggest critical flop of 2011 (so far anyway) if you had a choice? Probably not.

Salter, the former speechwriter for the current senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, had even mentioned to reporters that he was trying his hand at writing fiction. But according to this interview that Pareene quoted from the Daily Beast, even Salter thought it was bad. When asked why he had given up writing fiction, Salter said “because the kind of writers I admire have so much more talent than I do that it discouraged me from believing that I could write anything a tenth as good as they do.”

So if the book was so bad that even the author knew it was a stinker, why did the publisher insist on foisting this marketing exercise upon us? Could they honestly not find some writers who deserved their time and attention? Better yet, writers who deserved our time and attention?

Thankfully, we can now all go back to our lives and forget about the drama that wasn’t.