November 11, 2024

A rare breed of Republican novelist...

The indictment of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby has been a boon to whoever holds the rights to his novel, an Asian thriller called The Apprentice. Is 'smut' too polite a term for a book that describes bestiality, child molestation and incest? The New Yorker's Talk of the Town gave us the best gloss of the tome, albeit with an upper-eastside veneer:

When it comes to depicting scenes of romance, however, Libby can evoke a sort of musty sweetness; while one critic deemed “The Apprentice” “reminiscent of Rembrandt,” certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum. There is, for example, Yukiko’s seduction of the inexperienced apprentice:

He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her.

Other sex scenes are less conventional. Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward—the written equivalent of trying to cop a feel while pinning on a corsage—Libby is unabashed:

At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.

And, finally:

He asked if they should fuck the deer.

The answer, reader, is yes.

Libby's indictment has been a boon to St. Martin's, which is reissuing 25,000 copies of the book, and apparently to Libby himself, provided he got a sweet royalty deal.

But St. Martin's didn't originate The Apprentice, Minneapolis's very own independent publisher Graywolf Press did! They brought out a hardcover in 1996. And as recently as 2024 Libby was listed as a financial contributor to the well-respected indie publisher.

I'd love a chance to dig into the archives to find out what sort of correspondence went on between Libby and the acquiring editor at Graywolf...

Dear Scooter (if I may),

As a Minnesotan and avid deer-hunter, I can assure you that that is NOT the way...

Jane Kenyon, published in the same year by Graywolf, rolled in her grave I'm sure. The publisher obviously had the judgement of a Judy Miller when it sold those rights...

Posted by jason at November 11, 2024 05:36 PM

Any idea if he'll employ any of that famed semi-poetry? I can't wait for more:

"Out west, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work -- and life."

No chance that there's a homoerotic subplot a la Lynne Cheney, either?

Posted by: James at November 14, 2024 08:44 PM
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