Reagan biographer bites back

Edmund Morris answers his critics in an online chat.

Topics: Books,

In an online chat Wednesday, Edmund Morris, the author of “Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan,” had a chance to answer the critics who lambasted his book before its release. Newsweek (which offers excerpts of the new biography in its current issue) unleashed the Pulitzer Prize-winning author in its Web site’s Cover Talk section, and he came out snapping — when his antagonists weren’t snapping at him.

A question from Santa Ana, Calif., had the form of an indictment: “I believe that the panic you felt, brought on by impending humiliation, caused you to make a very unwise and now embarrassing decision.” To which Morris replied, “I don’t believe that you will believe
that, when you read the book. And the epiphany, such as it was, was not caused by writer’s block, but by plain old writer’s inspiration.”



When asked if his best work is 20 years behind him, Morris retorted, “I think that my best work is not twenty years behind, but twenty-four hours ahead, tomorrow being the publication day.” Responding to a gentler question from Modesto, Calif., about people who weighed in on the book prior to its release, Morris replied, “I find it saddening but not surprising given the pack mentality of today’s ever-hasty press, not to mention the knee-jerk mentality of former aides who have not yet read the book.”

The book was embargoed by Random House until Sept. 30, and so Morris naturally assumes that no one has had access to it. Thus he blasted a questioner in Houston with the following crack: “I congratulate you on the extraordinary speed with which you have read a book not yet in the stores.” But he may have been too hasty in his sarcasm. According to an employee at the national Borders chain, “Dutch” has been available to its customers since last Friday and, in some cases, since last Thursday.

Craig Offman is the New York correspondent for Salon Books.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>