Ralph Nader, Following His Muse
Last May, independent publisher Dan Simon received a manuscript from a first-time novelist. It took two weeks to get through the tome, after which he called the author.
Would the novelist be willing to make any changes? Absolutely not, the man replied.
When did he hope to publish it? In June, the man said.
In June?!? Simon told the writer it would be physically impossible to turn around before September.
All right then, said Ralph Nader: "September is okay."
Yes, Nader is now a novelist, and his quirky fiction debut -- a 733-page "utopian fantasy" starring Warren Buffett and Yoko Ono -- is as earnest as his legendary consumer activism and as unpredictable as his presidential runs. "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us" opens with an imaginary meeting of multimillionaires at a Maui resort where Buffett exhorts the likes of Ted Turner, George Soros, Bill Cosby, Barry Diller and Ono to use their collective influence and wisdom to transform the country
"In this book, they're all good guys," Nader told us -- and indeed, the cover art has them duded up like superheroes.
The bad guys, in Nader's vision, are corporate CEOs and their allies in Washington, led by Lancelot Lobo (a composite character, Nader says) and sidekick Brover Dortwist (any resemblance to anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is entirely intentional.)
Nader started the book three years ago, but "then I was busy running for president." Why so long? "This is a very detailed battle-for-justice plan," he said.
Simon, who runs the independent Seven Stories Press, said he was energized by the big ideas of Nader's story. "This book reminds me that change really could happen." Also, he noted, Nader is a dogged book-tour self-promoter, with a history of bestsellers. Seven Stories did an initial printing of 40,000 copies for Tuesday's release, and it's already printing an additional 5,000.
Will it help that Len Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, is one of the novel's beneficent titans? Nader told us he sent copies to all the real-life heroes from the book. No reviews yet, although Turner told him he was delighted to be included.
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