A lot of the so-called blockbuster
writers will be appearing with new
books in the first six months of the new year. Herman Wouk, for example, in April, has Inside, Outside set -- in the Nixon White House -- coming from Little, Brown in April, and John Irving's latest novel, The Cider House Rules is a Morrow title in June. There's a new Barbara Taylor Bradford in late spring; called Hold the Dream (Doubleday), it's a sequel to A Woman of Substance. And, on the nonfiction side, Doubleday has two sports books that ought to score -- Mickey Mantle on his life in baseball and Bob Hope on golf (Confessions of a Hooker).
New novels are due from John Hersey, Dick Francis, William Goldman, Ed McBain, two separate Collinses (Larry and Jacki, both with Simon and Schuster books), Mary Gordon, Louis L'Amour, Robin Cook, Michael Thomas, Frank Herbert and Peter De Vries. Skeleton Crew, a short novel along with shorter stories, is a Stephen King offering for which Putnam plans a 400,000 first printing. Biographies of Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams are promised, while Diahann Carroll has an autobiography and Priscilla Presley is telling all about Elvis. (But don't look for Elvis and Me (Putnam) until August.)
Holt seems to think their Howard Hughes bio by reporter Michael Drosnin, seven years in the making, is going to be controversial; so for this late January title, they're being hush-hush about completed advance galleys. Over at Morrow, the word is that while Bette Davis was no Joan Crawford, she certainly is "neurotic;" interested readers can learn more in a May memoir, My Mother's Keeper, by Davis' daughter, B.D. Hyman. Tommy Lasorda, George Balanchine, Phil Donahue, Thomas Peters, Ann Beattie, Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, plus many, many more recognizable names are on the '85 spring lists. Scribner's might even have a best seller in Ernest Hemingway, whose 1959 bullfighting pieces are out in book form for the first time, under the title The Dangerous Summer (July). Michael Evans Faces The "Federal Village"
MICHAEL Evans, the official presidential photographer for the Reagan White House, is a man obsessed. With 600 formal portraits now completed of the personalities who hold the reins of power in 1980s Washington, he's not yet ready to call it quits. "If I get up to 1,000, then 1,500 would be even better," he laughs, fully aware after two years of work that such an enterprise may never have an easy stopping point. "I'd like to do every single congressman, senator, assistant secretary and special assistant." For the moment, however, 293 of these pictures are being made available in a book due out in early 1985, People and Power: Portraits from the Federal Village (Abrams), and the originals will be on view in a full-scale Corcoran Gallery of Art show starting January 15.
"My original goal was 200," Evans remembers. And from President Reagan on down, Washington's establishment has by and large cooperated, with few bigwigs being camera-shy. "I've had three absolute turn- downs: cold, flat. I don't want to say who they are, but I'll tell you -- they're not politicians." Presssed, he'll only reveal that "two of the three were columnists." And he adds, "It's such a simple idea, it's complicated." In other words, many of the people he's approached have feared a catch.
"For example, James Kilpatrick thought I was some fly-by-night operation, a portrait studio trying to drum up business." But then, says Evans, Kilpatrick heard a friend mention an appointment with the photographer, and "it clicked, this is the guy who's been trying to get ahold of me." During the campaign, both Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro proved elusive, with aides around the former vice president apparently discouraging the contact. Now, however, Ferraro's been logged in as one of the high 500s, and Mondale, influenced by his wife, who admired some of the portraits, will shortly face the lens.
In order to gain the approval of the White House (which, naturally, would not wish Evans to seem to be benefitting financially from contacts made on the job), Evans has set up a nonprofit corporation, the Portrait Project Inc. Two senators who are also amateur photographers -- Howard Baker and Patrick Leahy -- are on its board, and Evans, who covered the Watergate hearings for Time, has donated all negatives to the National Archives.
"Sure, there's only one 'star' in town, and that's the president," Evans explains. "But there are an awful lot of other people who have a very real effect on what's going on." What he's hoping to do is to capture a period of history by exploring the faces of its controlling forces. "I'd like for it to give you an idea of what this era in Washington was about. If, as the old saying goes, one picture's worth a thousand words, then 600 -- or 1,500 -- has got to be better." Virago in Transition
THE Virago Modern Classics, a series
of trade paperbacks devoted to fiction rediscoveries by and about 19th- and 20th-century British women, have won a large following in this country since first introduced five years ago. Antonia White, Mary Webb, Rosamond Lehmann, Emily Eden, Elizabeth Taylor, Ada Leverson, Margaret Kennedy: these are just a few of the authors whose novels have won new audiences in the distinctive Virago format. With their handsome covers featuring paintings that capture the spirit of each novel, the books were distributed here by the Dial Press/Doubleday -- until a recent announcement spelled the end of that arrangement.
The problem, it seems, is that Virago, negotiating from London, wanted a guarantee of 24 titles released in the United States every year, a figure at which Dial/Doubleday balked. In an official statement, Doubleday's Philip Pochoda explained why his firm refused to renew the Virago contract: "We reached our decision in the firm belief that the success of the series was due to our editorial selectivity and a realistic assessment of the U.S. trade paperback market." Having previously done up to a dozen Virago Classics a year, with the total at 40, Dial/Doubleday now plans to issue their final three -- Miss Mole and The Misses Mallett by E.H. Young and Three Sisters by May Sinclair. But, after that, what lies in store for the series on these shores?
All parties involved are careful to categorize the break as "amicable." In fact, says Virago editorial director Ursula Owen, speaking from her London office, "They made heroic efforts to try and accommodate us." However, since she's now talking to numerous American suitors for her list but hasn't yet signed on the dotted line anywhere, Owen is cautious about revealing her hand. "I'm in a slightly delicate position," she hedges. "I can only say that, undoubtedly, whatever happens, we'll be marketing more of our Classics over there than ever before."
Knowledgeable sources say to keep an eye on Pantheon as one possibility, since that house almost took the series instead of Dial in the first place. Also known to be in the running is Merrimack Publishers Circle, the firm which already handles other Virago titles in the United States. Cautiously comments a Merrimack spokesman, Carol Romans, "We'd like to have them, but then so would a lot of other people."