Friday, September 11, 2009

an accidental presidential endorsement

I realize this particular story is most interesting to me, as both a huge supporter of Obama and a diehard Kansas basketball fan, but I think the issue of presidential endorsement is interesting. The always interesting Shelf Life blog at Entertainment Weekly has a fascinating post about the publisher pulling an Obama quote from cover of the upcoming memoir by Roy Williams.

(the backstory) First, I didn't know Roy had a memoir coming out in November. I will have to read it, and I will likely spend most of its 288 pages crying, if I don't throw it across the room. You see, my allegiance to Roy Williams goes back to my childhood. He was the last of my childhood heroes to fall. He was the one I thought would never lie. When he had the chance to go to UNC when Dean Smith retired, I would have let him go, understood, mourned and moved on. When he decided to stay, he promised he'd only leave when he got fired or when he died. He promised to be our coach forever. When he left three years later, I suffered the worst broken heart of my life. I know, it sounds silly. He was a basketball coach. I was a grown woman in 2003 when he left. Were I a grown woman when he became our coach, I probably could have let it go by now. Every time I watch a UNC basketball game, I still cry. It's been six years. I will never understand his decision to leave, but I usually don't begrudge him. I loved every minute of Kansas beating UNC in the Final Four last year. It was sweet revenge for me. I mostly don't begrudge Roy because I'm not angry; I'm sad. The picture of Roy walking through the Fieldhouse for the last time with his back to the camera was my desktop picture for years. Kansas basketball isn't the same for me. I'm never been a fan of Bill Self (it goes back to the Kansas-Illinois game in San Antonio in 2001 when he had six big men foul out for intentionally fouling. It worked; our big guys couldn't hit free throws, but it's not the way I want to win basketball games. I'm still not proud of the Memphis win in the national championship in 2008 because we got to overtime not only by the lucky talent of Mario Chalmers but by intentionally fouling at the two minute mark.) I still don't like Bill Self, and I don't have the same joy watching Kansas basketball. I still like watching Roy's teams play, but it breaks my heart. I'm sure I will love parts of the book, hate parts of the book, and I sincerely hope this memoir may bring me some sense of closure.

Clearly, this tale is quite personal for me, but I do find the legality of it fascinating. Obama did not mean the compliment to help sell books (I presume). I also presume the publisher sincerely thinks the Obama blurb would help sell books (North Carolina did swing for Obama, remember). The illegality seems quite clear, as Alongquin's legal department and the White House agree, but it didn't stop the latest edition of Netherland, Obama's famous vacation read from printing a quote on its latest covers.

The brilliant part, whether intentional or not, is the news about the quote being pulled will have a positive effect on consumer awareness of the book and its sales. Touche, Alongquin. Feel free to send me an ARC.

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