Like most writers, Stephen King does what he can to get the media to pay attention to his books, and he does it very well. The above video, from August 6, 2012, is King’s impressive appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and it should serve as an instructional video for any author out there doing promotion. Comfortable, articulate, and clearly into it, King shows us all how it’s done as he discusses the writing process, the contrast between what an author says in his books and his real-world personality, the afterlife, Jung, and the collective unconscious.
Ironically, at the 14:10 point in my interview on ReW and WhO? last week, Rew brings up Holocaust denial, and I mention my Holocaust-denying “personal conspiracy theorist” who also thinks I’m the CIA spymaster who ordered the hit on John Lennon.
“I heard someone else did it,” Rew says.
“Yeah, it was Stephen King,” I jokingly reply.
I am, of course, referring to the fact that King, too, has his own personal conspiracy theorist who believes he killed John Lennon. (Other conspiracy theorists believe Mark David Chapman received the order to kill Lennon through The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.)
Ferguson, however, chose not to go there with King, though King’s take on the twisted psyche of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust-denying and otherwise, would be fascinating. Perhaps it’s a job for Rew.
Last night, when I read from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, at 2A, in New York City, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Banned Book Week, I learned that it's easier to read from something you didn't write and feel detached from, than to read--as I've been doing for the past six months--an intimate passage from my own book Beaver Street, about how, as an experiment in participatory journalism, I got a blowjob for a photo shoot in a sleazy porn mag.
And speaking of blowjobs, last night may have been the first time in the history of Western Literature that a reading from the works of Linda Lovelace, author, was followed by a reading from the works of Salinger. And though few would argue that Lovelace is a better writer than Salinger, she is, arguably, a more prolific writer, and it's beyond question who's more skilled at the art of swallowing nine throbbing inches--a disciplined act of athleticism that Lovelace describes well in her banned book, Inside Linda Lovelace, read by event co-host Eric Danville to the appreciative audience.
I could go on talking about all the outstanding performances by a motley collection of writers, porn stars, and rockers, who included Lainie Speiser, Zoe Hansen & Raffaele, Shannon Conley, Rev Jen, Lisa Ann, and especially Puma Perl, who delivered an extraordinary reading of “To Fuck with Love,” by Lenore Kandel. But it’s all been documented on videotape, so you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself. I’ll post the video here as soon as I get my hands on it.
October has always been a good month for me, publicity-wise. It was in October, 13 years ago, that the first item about my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, appeared in Entertainment Weekly magazine, and ignited a firestorm of publicity that put the book on best-seller lists in five countries.
Judging by what happened yesterday, this October appears to be keeping true to form. The day began with an excellent piece in Adult Video News about banned books in general and the Banned Book Week event I'll be participating in tonight, at 8:00, in New York City, at 2A in the East Village. I've never before taken part in a group reading with a porn star, so this should be both interesting and raucous. The porn star, Lisa Ann, best known for playing "Serra Paylin" in the Hustler video series, will be reading from Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. I'll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. And it's FREE. See the full lineup here.
Then the day ended with The Bloodsprayer posting part 2 of my epic Beaver Street interview. If you’re undecided about whether or not to come tonight, allow me, as I did with part 1, to boil down part 2 to the top 5 pull quotes.
“In the 60-odd pages Traci Lords devotes to porn in her book, in virtually every case she leaves out the Five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—saying she was drunk and stoned the whole time and forgot everything that happened.”
“A normal company would have put Mario Puzo’s and Stan Lee’s typewriters in a glass case and employees would have been required to genuflect every time they walked by. But at Swank, it appeared as if the Goodman family didn’t want Martin Goodman’s sacred name sullied by the stench of his son’s smut.”
“The amateur exhibitionists are putting the professional studs and starlets out of business.”
“I say in the Beaver Street prologue that I wrote the book ‘to understand the cumulative psychic effect of having spent 192 months immersed in XXX and wondering if I’d ever get out alive.’ So, yes, writing it was cathartic.”
With any luck at all, I’ll be equally provocative tonight. Hope to see you at 2A.
Of all the banned books in the world to read from, and there are thousands, why am I reading from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at the Banned Book Week event at 2A tomorrow night? Because of the connection between that book and Nowhere Man, my John Lennon bio. As I will explain at the reading, The Catcher in the Rye is a book that drives people crazy. And it has 26 chapters. Mark David Chapman read it and decided to kill John Lennon--to save the world from Lennon's phoniness. He believed that by killing Lennon he'd write Chapter 27 in Lennon's blood and then he'd literally disappear into the book to become the Catcher in the Rye for his generation.
I wrote about all this in Nowhere Man. In the last section of the book, “The Coda,” I detail Chapman’s descent into madness as he travels from Hawaii to New York to carry out his mission. In the book’s final chapter, “Chapter 27,” I describe Chapman’s 1981 court hearing, which I attended as a journalist. Rather than stand trail, Chapman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life. In the courtroom, as his statement to the world, he read from chapter 22 of The Catcher in the Rye, the part where Holden Caulfield tells his sister that he wants to be the catcher in the rye.
None of this has anything to do with why the book was banned. It was banned because Holden talks too much about sex. And Salinger captures his voice perfectly, which is the real magic of The Catcher in the Rye.
Hope you can stop by and listen to all the readings. And please check out this excellent article in Adult Video News about the event, and banned books in general.
Let’s take a day off from Beaver Street to talk about conspiracy theories. I bring it up now because in the course of my correspondence with “Alan” (click here and here), I mentioned that after publishing Nowhere Man, a conspiracy theorist who calls himself “Salvador Astucia” began posting articles suggesting that I’m the CIA spymaster who gave the order to whack John Lennon. (Or something like that. It’s hard to make sense of his insanity.) I also sent Alan a link to a satirical piece about the top three Lennon-murder conspiracy theories, which includes the spymaster theory. Alan’s astonished and expletive-filled reaction prompted me to try to explain what it’s like to have a conspiracy “nut” accuse you of murder, which, oddly enough, has its upside.
This has been going on for years, and at first it was disturbing, especially when other writers picked up on it and reprinted his “theories.” You’d think that people who call themselves journalists would make an effort to get in contact with someone before they implicate him in a high-profile murder. But the only conspiracy theorist who’s asked to interview me is Astucia (means “clever” or “cunning” in Spanish), and that is the only interview I’ve ever refused to do. I don’t know if he really believes what he’s writing, or he knows it’s bullshit and he just says it to be provocative. But he’s also a Holocaust denier and tends to describe me as a “Jewish writer.” That’s why I call him My Personal Nazi. (Everybody should have one.) What I finally realized is that when Astucia gets active, and starts splattering stuff all over the Internet—it goes in cycles—it sells books. So, I don't totally hate him. And any time I find myself on a top-three list with Stephen King and J. D. Salinger, I only have My Personal Nazi to thank.
“Enormously entertaining... Beaver Street captures the aroma of pornography, bottles it, and gives it so much class you could put it up there with Dior or Chanel.” –Jamie Maclean, editor, Erotic Review
“Whatever twisted... fantasy you might’ve had, you can bet that Rosen once brought it to life in print.” —Ben Myers, Bizarre
“Shocking… evocative… entertaining… A rich account that adds considerable depth and texture to any understanding of how the pornography industry worked.” —Patrick Glen, H-Net
“Beaver Street is a surreal, perverted mindfuck.” —Kendra Holiday, editor, The Beautiful Kind
“A confessional for-adults-only romantic comedy with a rare, thoughtful twist... riveting.” —David Comfort, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Well researched, smartly written, surprisingly funny… a one of a kind tour through a fast-disappearing underbelly of American popular culture.” —Matthew Flamm, Amazon
“An electrifying journey through porn’s golden age.” —The Sleazoid Podcast
“Beaver Street is funny, sad, disgusting and hopeful in equal measures.” —Synergy magazine (Australia)