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Allen: Webb's Books Show Bad Character

"Mr. Webb had total control over which words he wrote into his book," Lafferty wrote Friday. "He chose to write about the basest sexual acts rather than use the books as an opportunity to present something which was uplifting or illuminating."

But others said Webb's novels are works of imagination intended to be informative and provide entertainment, not statements on actions that Webb endorses.

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), who has endorsed Allen, enthusiastically praised Webb's book, "Lost Soldiers," and was quoted on the book jacket.

"James Webb's new novel paints a portrait of a modern Vietnam charged with hopes for the future but haunted by the ghosts of its war-torn past," McCain wrote about the book. "It captures well the lingering scars of the war, and exposes the tension between the dynamism of a new generation and the invisible bondage of an older generation for whom wartime allegiances, and animosities, are rendered no less vivid by the passage of time. A novel of revenge and redemption that tells us much about both where Vietnam is headed and where it has been."

Last month, authors Stephen King and John Grisham hosted a fundraiser for Webb in Charlottesville. At that event, they mocked Allen and his campaign's criticism of Webb's fiction.

Grisham said Friday in an interview, "I am just shocked at the idea the Allen campaign would be this desperate. This is a clear sign of a desperate campaign if they plow through novels trying to find evidence of character. The old saying is 'everything is grist for the writer's mill.' Every person you see, every country you visit, every bizarre, vile, repulsive act could one day be in a novel. That is not reflective of your character as an author; it is reflective of what you witnessed as someone looking for material."

Grisham then unloaded on Allen, saying, "It seems like voters should be more concerned with George Allen's fiction. I seriously doubt George Allen is much of a reader, but if he would read more, maybe he would understand the difference fiction and non-fiction."

At the Charlottesville fundraiser last month, King said, "They keep talking about Webb, the fiction writer candidate. This is supposed to be a bad thing, and this drives me crazy. It makes me insane to hear this, partially because I am a fiction writer, and for years, I have been saying [that] fiction is the truth inside the lie. And what I have seen the last six years in Washington is the lie inside the truth. . . . If you think George Allen is the best qualified to represent the people in Washington, I think that might be fiction."

At that event, Webb read from some of this books and acknowledged being a writer.

"Yes, George, I write fiction," Webb said, "and take a look here and you will see how people who do this understand the human experience in a very profound way."

Others also defended Webb at the fundraiser that night.

"One of Senator Allen's main themes of attack on Jim Webb is that he writes books," Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said. "Wow. You know that a campaign is going pretty negative when they attack somebody for writing books. I think [Thomas] Jefferson may have written a book."

Staff writer Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

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