Books: Cover Stories in New York

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The Independent Culture
WITH HER so-called friend Monica Lewinsky hunkered down with Andrew Morton, Linda Tripp, the woman who ensnared the hapless intern, is now hoping to publish her side of the story. Lucianne Goldberg, the New York agent who suggested Tripp tape Lewinsky, is not in the running - an appearance before a Maryland grand jury makes "a professional relationship" impossible. Alas, Tripp is unable to return to her job at the Pentagon and is in need of a little spending money. Larry King, with whom she was spotted dining in Washington, says that it's important for her to "explore her economic options". Which may be few. For, if Lewinsky is disliked, Tripp is loathed.

IF MONICA is disappointed with her "paltry" $600,000, which she is presumably splitting with Morton, she will be infuriated to know that a mere New York cop has just pocketed a few dollars short of a million bucks for Blue Blood. The novel is written under the pen name of Marcus Laffey, and it started life as a column for the New Yorker - one of Tina Brown's ideas to survive her departure. Penguin bought at an auction in which bidding started at $350,000. Laffey, however, has no intention of giving up the day job.

IT LOOKS as though Pat Conroy, author of Prince of Tides, will be writing what's described as "a reconception" of Gone with the Wind, telling the story from Rhett Butler's perspective. Contracts have yet to be signed but industry sources believe that US publishers St Martin's Press are paying the trustees of the Margaret Mitchell estate around $4.5m.

COME EARLY January, and thoughts turn to diet books. This New Year, we are invited to join Fergie in Dieting with the Duchess, the latest of her collaborations with WeightWatchers. The Simon & Schuster catalogue promises that dear Sarah will share with us her "secrets and sensible advice for a great body" and her plan for "a healthy new lifestyle". The author blurb is coy. "Sarah Ferguson has worked for a time at a public relations firm, an art gallery and for a publisher. She is also the author of a series of children's books and currently a spokesperson for WeightWatchers International. She lives in London, England." No mention, then, of her work as a chalet girl, or for The Firm.

HAS TOM Wolfe's moment at last arrived? He has cleared the first round of voting for election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, whose membership is limited to 260 writers and artists. The living and voting include Bellow, Vonnegut and Toni Morrison, and Wolfe is anxious to be counted among their number. Alas, John Updike, a member, has dismissed Wolfe's A Man in Full as "entertainment, not literature". Wolfe's case is not helped by the scorn he has poured on many Academy members in his long career.

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