Either Amerikan Krazy has already broken into the political zeitgeist in America or AnonyMouse really is just a pernicious and rapidly breeding character. Either way in one of her final print columns for The New York Times, public editor Margaret Sullivan felt compelled to share some thoughts on our masked rodent friend:
“The Times has a new way to handle information supplied by people who don’t want to be identified by name — also known as anonymous sources, or jocularly, because they are omnipresent and hard to control, as “anonymice.”
–Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor, The New York Times
in Building a Better Anonymouse Trap on March 19, 2016
If, for some reason, Ms. Sullivan wasn’t aware of Amerikan Krazy, we’re happy to send her a review copy for her entertainment before she starts her new gig as a media columnist for the Washington Post. Perhaps it might serve as the perfect de-stressing tonic between the shell shock of being public editor and covering the realities of media in Amerika? Certainly the political satire will serve her in good stead in her coming role.
The Road to Socialism is socializing, so thanks for joining the Amerikan Krazy Party!
HUGE thanks to everyone who caucused at the Super Wednesday launch party for Amerikan Krazy by Henry James Korn at Chevalier’s Books, one of Southern California’s premier independent booksellers. This venerable Los Angeles literary Mecca, founded in 1940, drew a standing room only crowd comprising lovers of socio-political satire and art, film, and book world friends of the author and publisher.
Bert Deixler, a law partner at Kendall Brill Kelly LLP and co-owner of Chevalier’s, welcomed guests and introduced Amerikan Krazy’s publisher, Chris Aldrich of Boffo Socko Books, as well as author Henry James Korn who animated his reading by impersonating numerous characters.
Korn’s rollicking thirty-minute show was warmly received and sales of the hardcover version of his debut novel were brisk. According to Bert Deixler, “Amerikan Krazy is wonderful and we sold 40 books, which is a lot. I think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar only sold 33 books when he appeared at Chevalier’s last month,” continued the attorney and Los Angeles Review of Books board member, “but then again that could have been Kareem’s LA Lakers uniform number.”
Is it true that you were expelled from Johns Hopkins University by university president Milton S. Eisenhower (President Dwight Eisenhower’s brother) for an article you edited/published in the college student newspaper which defamed sitting President Lyndon B. Johnson? Can you tell us more about the incident and how it influenced the plot of your book Amerikan Krazy?
Yes and yes. Ironically, I landed at Johns Hopkins University as a freshman in the fall of 1963 as a result of a successful encounter with Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower at Rockefeller University arranged by my late dad through his bank.
As an impressionable Hopkins student, I continued to admire Ike’s younger brother (who was an international relations expert in his own right) from afar. Nevertheless, in 1967, Dr. Eisenhower informed me via a hand-delivered letter on embossed stationary that I had brought great shame upon the University by calling President Lyndon B. Johnson a murderer in public print because of his role in the JFK assassination cover-up and the Vietnam war.
In Amerikan Krazy, a boy named Herbert Horn fears an imminent atomic attack and, as a result, wears patriotism on the sleeve of his cut-down Eisenhower jacket and takes comfort from Ike’s peculiar but reassuring resemblance to Proctor and Gamble’s “Mr. Clean.” As a teenager, Herb Horn similarly perceives young Senator Kennedy as his nation’s well-scrubbed savior but Herb’s fragile psyche is soon shattered by Kennedy’s brutal public execution. In response to Kennedy’s death, Herb crafts a satire defaming his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson similar to the Hopkins Newsletter essay that enraged Milton S. Eisenhower. This formative, high-profile experience beneath the iron heel of Presidential authority results in Herb’s radicalization manifested in sleepless nights, revenge fantasies, odd longings, substance abuse, patricidal nightmares, war wounds, terror bombings and fantasies about new Presidential assassination plots.
“Don’t ask a stupid question like that because the undergraduate newspaper is subsidized.”
—Milton S. Eisenhower
Incidentally, when I was suspended from school and the story was published round the world, Lou Panos, who wrote the Inside Baltimore column of The Evening Sun interviewed Milton Eisenhower and asked him where freedom of the press fit in? Panos reported that the ordinarily unflappable Eisenhower snapped, “Don’t ask a stupid question like that because the undergraduate newspaper is subsidized.” Panos concluded that Dr. Eisenhower’s answer indicated that the President of one of the America’s leading universities believed there should be two kinds of press–one paid and the other free.
As another interesting aside, my true-life confrontation with the arbitrary power of the ruling elites at an early age had a bit of a happy ending. Several days after my reinstatement as a Hopkins student, I was surprised to receive a letter from Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22 (and a major literary hero of mine then and now) expressing the wish that I was in Washington, D.C. running the country and that the folks in Washington, D.C. were in school learning a few things.
PS: Friends are encouraged to click on a You Tube link that features Milton S. Eisenhower championing the establishment of concentration camps for 120,000 Japanese-American citizens during World War II. Readers are cordially invited to view this ten-minute War Relocation Agency propaganda film and post opinions on the question of who shamed Hopkins.
If you’ve got your own question about me, my books, or my writing, feel free to ask it yourself at Goodreads.