Mark Halperin at Time:
McCain wordsmith revealed as “anonymous” author of “O” the novel.
Confirmed by sources, but there were lots of in-plain-sight clues that led to Salter’s Maine door.
(Flashback: Page Six touted Salter.)
–Simon and Schuster topper Jonathan Karp was Salter’s editor on books he did with Senator McCain.
–Salter has been holed up in Maine since leaving his job in the Senate.
–The descriptions that Karp has given of the author matched Salter.
–Salter’s non-denial denial was the closest to a confession of any suspect who was publicly asked.
–There is a story early in the book based on a real-life tale that would have been known only to a McCain campaign insider such as Salter.
It was obvious from skimming ‘O: A Presidential Novel,’ written by “Anonymous” and published Tuesday after an intense publicity campaign, that its author was male, on the political center-right, and not a professional writer. The writing lacked the finesse of a pro, described women in vivid physical terms, and imagined for the president a disdain for liberal Democrats that echoed the way conservatives talk about liberals, rather than the way reporters or mainstream Democrats do
Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner:
A little D.C. parlor game at the moment is guessing who the author of the Anonymous novel O: A Presidential Novel, is. The New York Post’s Page Six pointed to former longtime John McCain adviser Mark Salter. Mark Halperin today says he has it “Confirmed by sources” that Salter is Mr. Anonymous. This morning, for what it’s worth, this is what Salter had to say to me: “I can’t confirm I’m the author. Been asked by the publisher, as have many others, not to comment on it.”
All I really know is if Salter wrote it, it’s a good read.
UPDATE: I should make clear: I haven’t read O yet. Assessment is a gamble, being familiar with Salter’s past writing.
Choire Sicha at The Awl:
Well that didn’t take too long: Mark Salter has been “officially” fingered as the author of O, the fictionalized, non-sadomasochistic work of fiction about the president, written by someone described by the publisher as someone who “has been in the room with Barack Obama.” You remember Mark Salter as the man who writes everything for John McCain. Oh I see. Political ops. The book has been in print for two days. “Trite, implausible and decidedly unfunny,” says the New York Times!
Truth in advertising first. I haven’t read the novel, though I really like the graphics of the “O” and the “ears” as well as the brilliant blue of the cover.
Recently, I ventured into a cluster of leading conservatives with whom I had a great social encounter and saw the book in my friend’s living room.
Not having read it, I asked the host and others if they enjoyed it — and the response was “I just couldn’t get past the first few dozen pages. I tried twice.”
This person also said that Joe Klein’s brilliance in Primary Colors is that Klein really had an sympathy and understanding for the tough and miserable life politicians had to lead, an empathy for them. My friend said that he didn’t feel that O‘s author had that same respect for the profession.
I then mentioned that I had been hearing rumors that former McCain chief of staff and co-author of nearly all of McCain’s books, Mark Salter, might be the author.
My friend said, “But Mark Salter can write!!”
Just shows that you never know — until you know.
Was Jonathan Karp on the level when he promoted this? Sort of. The author, we were told, was someone who’d been “in the room” with Barack Obama. That was a loose enough classification to apply to Sarah Palin or to Markos Moulitsas. But the book was also promoted as an insider account of how Obama thinks, which wouldn’t have been possible if it was marketed honestly as “what a confidant of the man Obama defeated in 2008 thinks about Obama.”
The Salter authorship (unconfirmed! barely!) does allow us to revisit a few interesting items in the novel. Is the contempt that “O” feels for Sarah Palin supposed to be in the president’s voice or Salter’s? The president’s, although Palin’s dizzy quotes and decision not to run don’t come from nowhere. Also, the six page section in which the war hero senator’s speechwriter screams “Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy?” makes more sense now.*
*I am kidding about this but it’s worth a disclaimer when you’re discussing a stunt.