has written is publishing a new novel! The Financial Times reviewer says it is “… both a work of art and a bombshell hurled at the religious right. It tackles the Second Coming of Jesus in modern America – with the promised Messiah enacting the deeds the religious right consider most wicked. He is, for example, an active bisexual who supports his prostitute girlfriend when she aborts her first child…. This book is very good indeed… weirdly believable, often extremely moving and sometimes funny.”
What the reviewer does not say, at least in the Slate excerpt, is that this artful tome will set you back fifty fekking dollars, unless you are among the gadget-enabled who settle for the $10 Kindle version. I could not understand the premium for a writer best known for being legally obligated to apologize to Oprah on-camera, until I read the interview on Amazon’s sale page:
Q: You’ve opted to go with the Gagosian Gallery in New York rather than a traditional publisher. Why did you choose a small art gallery over a traditional publishing house?
A: Gagosian is the most prestigious gallery in the world. And they publish about 50 books a year–beautiful art books that transcend what a writer can do with a traditional publisher. I wanted to make a beautiful book, an object that people would be proud to own and display,something looked and felt like a real Bible, but more contemporary. I have always said that art influences me more than writing does so the idea of working with a gallery made sense to me.
Q: What artists inspired you while writing The Final Testament?
A: I looked at a ton of Renaissance religious art, like Michelangelo and Raphael, Carvaggio. Some of the sculpture Rodin made. Illuminated manuscripts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a much greater and more substantial body of religious art than there is religious literature.
Q: Could you talk about the design of the book? How involved were you in the process?
A: I was very involved in every step of it, in every decision related to it. I worked with a design firm in London called GTF. They make incredible books, and they were incredible to work with on this project. The goal was to make a beautiful, unique, collectible book.
Q: The Final Testament will be released as a limited-edition $50 printed book and a $150 autographed version, but you’re self-publishing the ebook at $10. Do you see a future where the printed book is an expensive object intended for collectors while digital copies are for everyone else?
A: Absolutely. I think the future of publishing, or one version of it, is in physical books for collectors and serious fans and ebooks for mass distribution. I believe in that future and want to be a part of it as early as possible.
SO PERFECT. A comely Art-Appreciation-101 version to be displayed on all the best coffee tables, and a tech-friendly (words-only?) version for minimum-wage-earning hipsters who might actually want to read the thing! And if the publicity gods are very very kind, maybe some godbothering yahoo in flyover country will be inspired to denounce it! I wonder if GTF was responsive to the marketing challenge of a high-flashpoint paper stock?
And is the particularly spank-worthy text printed in red ink, like the words of you-know-who in an old-fashioned “real Bible”?
Truly, if James Frey did not exist, Tom Wolfe — or David Mamet — would have to invent him.