I wonder if at some point, while spending yet another dreary day with his boss the Vice-President at an undisclosed location, I. Lewis Libby’s mind wandered over what might have been. He had published a novel in 1996, and yearned for a literary career. But sales had been tepid, and life with the increasingly irascible V.P. was precluding further literary labors. Perhaps he was beginning to feel like Herman Melville at the New York Customs House, a government functionary whose genius was fated to go unrecognized.
This White House gig isn’t going to last forever. But how do I get anyone to pay attention to a literary novel in this Internet/movie/TV-obsessed age? I need to create some kind of image for myself so my book will be noticed. Let’s see…most buyers of fiction are women, and chicks dig bad boys…hmmm…I know!!!
Last month Libby’s novel “The Apprentice”, a period piece set in Japan, was languishing in obscurity, just like its author. But now, thanks to literary star-maker Patrick Fitzgerald, it has shot up to #267 on Amazon, rarified territory traditionally occupied by names like John Irving and Elmore Leonard.
According to the New York Times Book Review, Libby’s novel boasts “…delicate prose and stirring descriptive passages.” The Washington Post calls the book “soaring” and “erotically charged”. Unfortunately, in an era of The Devil Wears Prada, these qualities, salutary though they may be, do not translate into robust sales. Libby correctly calculated that, as long as he was the man in the shadows behind the bizarrely grinning Dick Cheney, no one would ever think to wonder who exactly, is that enigmatic Scooter fellow, and should I purchase his book?
But now, in a publicity coup even Bill Clinton would envy, Scooter Libby has placed himself squarely on the literary map. Last week, the world had no idea he had written a novel. Next week, it could be a selection of Oprah’s Book Club. And soon, it looks like the newly-successful author might have a lot of time to work on the next one.
I confess I am jealous of Mr. Libby. The paperback edition of my novel, The Bones, will be published this March and I am now taking suggestions for what I can do to get indicted for a felony in the meantime. There’s only one caveat: I must be able to attribute my crime to a too-busy schedule, and a faulty memory.