Sunday, November 15, 2009

Palin's memoirs triggers a boomlet of other books

NEW YORK — Sarah Palin may fashion herself as a go-it-alone maverick, but her book is producing a crowd.

By the time the former governor's memoir — "Going Rogue: An American Life" — officially hits book stores on Tuesday — there'll be a legion of titles waiting to cash in, from unauthorized biographies to critical essays to a tongue-in-cheek coloring book.

That doesn't even include the picture book "Terminatrix: The Sarah Palin Chronicles" — which superimposes her head on paintings and famous photos — and a boomlet of self-published books, including one that weirdly takes Henrik Ibsen's play "Hedda Gabler" and merely substitutes Gabler for Palin and George Tesman for Todd Palin.

This much is clear: Palin, whose wardrobe got her in trouble during the presidential campaign, has apparently sparked others to ride her memoir's coattails, whether to assault, defend or just giggle.

"There is something about her which is very hard not to be drawn into," says Colin Robinson, co-publisher at OR Books, which is putting out a collection of essays pulled together by two senior editors at The Nation magazine. "It might be a sort of adoration. Or it might be that one is appalled. But you can't stop watching."

Robinson's book doesn't exactly hide its disdain for the former vice presidential candidate, who is pictured on the cover in front of a stormy sky. It's called "Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare."

"Sarah Palin isn't going away. That's clear," Robinson says. "She's going to be an important force for some time to come in American politics and we think she's a dangerous force. So we wanted to take the fight up against her."

Other serious studies out this month include "Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar" by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, and "The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star," by Matthew Continetti, an associate editor at The Weekly Standard.

Other authors are going simply for laughs, such as "Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring and Activity Book" by Julie Sigwart and Micheal Stinson, which is filled with political cartoons drawn in the style of a coloring book. Readers can do a word search for Palin's potential vice presidential picks — can you find "Rush Limbaugh" and "Tina Fey"? — or tackle a puzzle maze of oil pipelines.

"As a satirical vehicle, a coloring book is perfect," says Stinson. "Both the right and the left can enjoy this book. Unlike The Nation, which just has a bunch of words, we have pictures."

One of the more bizarre offerings is "Sarah Palin's Secret Diary," by Joey Green, a former contributing editor to the National Lampoon, who has previously written books skewering Monica Lewinsky and George W. Bush.

In his bogus diary, Green mockingly reveals that Palin had the hots for Joe the Plumber and that Levi Johnston was Tasered until he agreed to marry Palin's pregnant daughter Bristol.

"She's so comedic and she's kind of unaware of how funny she is, which makes it even funnier," says Green. "She's predictably unpredictable — I think that's what makes her so fascinating."

None of these books have a realistic chance of outselling Palin's official book, which has a first printing of 1.5 million copies and the muscle of HarperCollins behind it. "Going Rouge," for example, is published "by two guys working out of a cafe," Robinson concedes.

Still, the authors have high hopes. Green, who forged Palin's diary, was tickled to find his book being packaged with Palin's official memoir on Amazon.com for about $19.

"What a great gift," he says. "Then you don't offend anybody."

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