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Sinclair Lewis gets his final payday

It's rare to see the name of Sinclair Lewis in the news, so this story is not only unexpected but simply wonderful: his former assistant, 89-year-old Barnaby Conrad, has finally gotten around to writing a novel, The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth, which Lewis conceived of, granted to Conrad and even took a 30% ownership stake in.

"You are never going to be a writer unless you write that book," declared Lewis, the Nobel Prize-winning author of Elmer Gantry and Babbitt, as Mr. Conrad recounted the moment recently. Talk about pressure. "It was always on my mind," he said.

Conrad proved him wrong - the Booth novel is his 36th book, so he already became a writer long ago. Conrad has certainly had an interesting life - writer, artist, bullfighter, celebrity nightclub owner - and I'm amused that he still thinks enough of his tempestuous former boss that he has a "stern and intimidating portrait" of Lewis in his living room. And though Conrad only worked for Lewis for five months, he's writing a memoir of their time together, one which I will definitely be interested in reading.

January 27, 2011 in Books | Permalink


I saw that same article in the NYT. I'm interested in reading it too.

Posted by: Paul at Jan 27, 2011 7:04:18 PM