A review of my book, The Z Collection: Portraits & Sketches, in the June 17 issue of The Times Literary Supplement, accuses me of “restrained élan.” My wife may beg to differ, but I plead guilty to the charge — happily.
The TLS reviewer, Douglas Field, whose biographical study of James Baldwin, All Those Strangers, was recently praised by Nathaniel Rich in The New York Review of Books, also accuses me of hostage-taking. Field says:
Throughout the volume Herman successfully captures the voice of the writers he meets, including a middle-aged Norman Mailer … who [is] obsessed with ageing and posterity and [who] declares his admiration for Picasso “because he understood that style was not an identity. It is a tool to use.”
Furthermore, Field contends that my “most extensive and engaging essay … underscores the vitality and anarchy of 1960s counterculture, a time when Herman collaborated with a coterie of writers and artists …” And finally, I stand accused of kidnapping. The last point of the indictment notes that The Z Collection “brings the reader along as a travelling companion, rather than an eavesdropper on Herman’s literary adventures, and” — perhaps in extenuation of my crimes — ‘offers tantalizing insights” with [you guessed it] “restrained élan.”