Authors are dying for a shout-out in this novel

King_lSo there’s this new novel being published June 1st called Who’s Killing the Great Writers of America?, by Robert Kaplow, see? And in it, famous scribes, including EW columnist Stephen King (pictured) — as well as Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, and Sue Grafton, among others — are offed violently. In the novel, the murderer turns out to be… comedian-writer Steve Martin. Cindy Adams is reporting in The New York Post that Martin is annoyed about being portrayed in this way.

Well, as EW’s unofficial Ancient Pop-Culture Guy on the staff, I can pull a tattered paperback off of my dusty shelves and remind you whippersnappers that way back in 1973, there was a novel called American Mischief, by one Alan Lelchuck. In it, the lead character shoots Norman Mailer at point-blank range and kills the famed author of The Naked and The Dead dead. And — well, whaddaya know? — at the time, Mailer, like Martin, was peeved at being portrayed fictionally.

addCredit(“Stephen King: Seth Wenig/AP”)

But while Cindy Adams asserts that Steve Martin’s agent has triedunsuccessfully to prevent publication of Kaplow’s book, back in 1973,Mailer took matters into his own rough-knuckled hands. As Timemagazine’s R.Z. Sheppard reported at the time, Mailer threatened toreduce Alan Lelchuck to "a hank of hair and some fillings." (AncientPop-Culture Guy is moved to remark with admiration: They don’t makethreats like they used to, do they?) While Alan Lelchuk has publishednumerous books since American Mischief, none of them has brought him anywhere near the coverage and notoriety that Mischiefdid. And if I was Robert Kaplow, I wouldn’t have picked Stephen King asa victim no matter how much ink it got me. Gosh, I’d hate to see Kaplowreduced to a hank of hair and some fillings in a future King thriller…

So, given the fact that, despite having published a number of othernovels, Robert Kaplow isn’t exactly a household name, do you thinkkilling off "great writers" is: a publicity stunt? A rip-off of AlanLelchuk’s idea? A chance for readers to discover a bold talent whohasn’t yet received the acclaim he deserves? Or some combination of allof these?

Comments (9 total) Add your comment
  • Homer Simpson

    A publicity stunt in literary American? NEVER

  • Homer Simpson

    A publicity stunt in literary America? NEVER

  • Chris Richards

    Don’t know if it is a stunt or a clever gimmick (but definetly ONE of the two) but it sounds interesting. Can’t EW get its own writer, Mr. King, to tell us how he feels about this mixed-honor??

  • Tally

    Thanks for spoiling the ending, EW. If that’s true though, Steve Martin should get over it. Maybe the author should have used Merv Griffin as the serial killer, as he was in Martin’s movie “The Man With Two Brains.”

  • Nix

    Danielle Steele is a great author?
    (Yes, yes, she’s published a zillion books, i haven’t, but still.)
    Maybe that’s it — Steve is using his MENSA IQ to off all the popular bestselling authors.
    Great, thanks to Oprah, my man Cormac is now on that list.

  • Laura

    Has anyone yet mentioned that Kaplow has “appropriated” the plot from the 1978 movie “Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?”

  • Mozz

    Steve Martin did it… that’s gonna be the new “The Butler did it.” isn’t it. and so one hundred years from now, when people say “Stven Martin did it.” you can look it up in an ancient dictionary of American Idioms and see how it all began.

  • Anonymous

    Like it or not, when you’re a public figure, you run the risk of having someone fictionalize you. Steve Martin knows this; didn’t he fictionalize Anne Heche in his screenplay for “Bowfinger”? He should get a sense of humor.
    As others have said, I never would have called Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, or even Stephen King* “great writers.” And I’m a little peeved at Ken Tucker for revealing “whodunit.”
    Is it a publicity stunt? I guess, but no worse than recent books “written” by Pamela Anderson, Nicole Richie, et al. How much of a “stunt” it is depends on how good the book turns out to be.
    *Stephen King’s column in EW is the worst thing in the magazine, in my opinion.

  • Keith

    Silly stuff. You’d think Martin would have, if not a sense of humor about the book, enough sense not to react.
    And contrary to what the anonymous poster said, Stephen King is the BEST thing about EW. I turn to the last page first when I pick up a copy of EW to see if he’s blessed us with his presense. I may not always like his subjects, but his pieces are always excellently written.

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