IT WAS THE END of the summer, 1972, and 9-year-old Alesia Revis was out riding her bike near her Washington, D.C. home. Coming up to a little-traveled street she neglected to pay careful attention as she zoomed into the road; later that day, the victim of a head-on collision with a car, Alesia was pronounced "Dead On Arrival" at the hospital. Luckily, however, the doctors were wrong, and after five weeks in a coma Alesia spoke her first words. Since then it's been slow and steady, reclaiming a normal life--from a special elementary school for disabled children to graduation from a regular public high school.
"We're neighbors," says Washington children's book author Eloise Greenfield of Alesia Revis, "and, of course, I had been watching her grow up, noting her progress. Then one day Alesia called me to say she was going to be on TV, talking about the way people stare at people in wheelchairs. And the idea suddenly came to me that there must be an awful lot Alesia would like to say, without having any forum from which to say it." So Greenfield, whose 17 books include Daydreamers, Childtimes and biographies of Paul Robeson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Rosa Parks, asked Alesia to keep a diary--which she did for about 10 months--and the result has just been published. Alesia (Philomel, distributed by Putnam) gives joint authorship to the novice and the experienced writer, and it is illustrated with both drawings and photographs of the real-life heroine.
"Helen Keller was an inspiration to me," says Alesia, now 19 and a student at the University of the District of Columbia. She speaks slowly, sometimes breaking off. "When Eloise asked me if I'd like to write a book, I said 'Sure!'" A pause. "I put down what happened to me day- to-day. None of my friends believed me, that I was writing a book, until the photographer came to school with me one day." For a young woman who remembers that the medical profession was ready to predict a life as a "vegetable" for her, it's indeed a far cry from DOA to a card in the Library of Congress.
ROSALYNN CARTER'S as-yet untitled book-in-progress, of which 150 pages have already been seen by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin, is a memoir of her entire life and not just the White House days. Editor-in-chief Nan Talese tied up the book for HM back in May on Mrs. Carter's home turf, when the American Booksellers Association met in Atlanta, but the ironing out of various details kept the contract from being signed until the end of October. An HM spokesperson says publication is before very late '83 or early '84..... Former National Security Council head Zbigniew Brzezinski has had less luck placing his hiss-and-tell volume on the Carter years. Agent "Swifty" Lazar was reportedly asking a cool million for the rights to publish Zbig's zbook, but months after he began showing an outline around there is still no deal. Perhaps the trouble is because, as one early reader describes it, Zbig is simply "too self-serving." Says Dr. B., ever sanguine, "I should have something to tell you any day now."
Television's Andy Rooney has indulged in a mild bit of man-bites-doggery. In a recent newspaper column he announced, jocularly, that he doesn't really like the title of his new book, A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney (Atheneum), and that the price ($12.95) "seems outrageous." What's more, he out and out refuses, he says, to go on any talk shows to promote it, leaving one to suppose that he prefers to keep his relationship pure with the many millions who already view him regularly on Sixty Minutes..... While we're on the subject, veteran TV host Steve Allen is bringing out The Talk Show Murders (Delacorte/January) in which guestis are bumped off chatting to Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas and Dick Cavett, among others. It's a member of the audience who gets it on the Phil Donahue show, but the killer isn't found until the action's moved on to Merv Griffin. Also featured in the novel are Tom Snyder, the Davids Frost and Susskind, and Jack Paar.
Rita Mae Brown, novelist and lesbian-feminist personality, has two new works of fiction coming out in 1982, Southern Discomfort (Harper & Row) and Sudden Death (Bantam). But one sounds more fictitious than the other, since the latter takes place on the women's pro tennis circuit, a world Brown saw up close until her much-publicized break-up last spring with court star Martina Navratilova. Brown, meanwhile, is involved in a project for Norman Lear, as one of the writers on a two-hour TV special planned for George Washington's birthday. It's a celebration of the individual and "a salute to liberty," says a Lear associate, and Gerald Ford and Lady Bird Johnson are two of the hosts. . . . Reaction from feminists to Betty Friedan's The Second Stage (Summit) has mostly run the gamut from negative to hostile, causing The Nation to begin a series of occasional pieces called "The Feminist Papers," the purpose of which is to give women writers and activists a go at what they consider Friedan's recidivism. So far, Bella Abzug has taken advantage of this platform to state her criticisms of Friedan's new ideas, and so has Ellen Willis.
Writer-of-fortune Robin Moore (The Green Berets, The Washington Connection, Mafia Wife, plus many others) is rumored to be contemplating a run for the U. S. Senate against Lowell Weicker (R--Conn.)..... Ken Follett's upcoming novel, elegantly titled The Russian Prince (Morrow/April), just might disappoint his fans, Book Report has heard. It's more like the latest romantic novel from Dorothy Eden says one advance reader..... Former HUD and HHS chief Patricia Harris has been telling people that she wants to write a book, that is, if she doesn't enter the D.C. mayoral race. When asked what her topic might be, Mrs. Harris cagily answered that she doesn't think it wise ever "to discuss anything that hasn't gone beyond the outline stage." Does that mean her possible run for City Hall as well?
Someone who's equally unforthcoming is S. Phelps Platt Jr., president and chief executive officer of Dodd, Mead (a venerable family-held firm whose major asset probably has been the works of Agatha Christie). It's public knowledge that Dodd's now looking for a merger deal--not a take-over --but it would take Hercule Poirot himself to pry further details out of Mr. Platt..... Over at Dutton, editor-in- chief Charles Corn "has left to pursue his own interests." ("We all know what that means," sighs one editor and veteran of the publishing wars. "He's busy typing resumes.") Among other books, Corn was responsible for signing up the recently published and controversial (fact or fiction?) Sing a Song for Jenny Next by Laurence Gardella, about an American marine's secret mission into China during the Korean War. Dutton's new owner, John S. Dyson, chairman of the New York State Power Authority, reportedly stayed out of the Corn proceedings, although that same week he made his debut in the publishing world at a party (around 200 agents, reprinters, etc., at the Century Club in Manhattan) Dutton threw to introduce him to the gang..... Kennett and Eleanor Rawson, who once ruled the roost at David McKay, have flown the coop at Rawson, Wade, the house they formed with James Wade after leaving McKay in l975. The two of them are going to have their own imprint at Scribner's, where the hopes are high that the redoubtable couple will discover more best-selling doctors (they're responsible for unleashing Rubin, Atkins and the late Hy Tarnower on the public). Carolyn Anthony (vice-president for just about everything, who followed the Rawsons from McKay) is said to be one very angry lady at being left behind this time, and Jim Wade can't be too happy either. Rawson Wade will close its doors December 31.