Monday, May 16, 2022

Bouquets for Bama: “More Kennedy Wit”

Part of a posthumous salute to artist James Bama.

More Kennedy Wit, by Bill Adler (Bantam, 1965). Author Adler (1929-2014) was a New York-based literary agent, who’d churned out dozens of what one source called “‘instant books’: slim volumes on a timely subject, intended for prominent placement (preferably close by the cash register) and quick sales.” His 1964 paperback release, The Kennedy Wit, a compendium of John F. Kennedy’s press conference one-liners, debuted just months after the 35th president was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and became a national bestseller. He went on to compile the repartee of Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, as well as the numerous letters sent to both Santa and President Barack Obama, and biographies of Fred Astaire and Princess Diana. Following his demise at age 84, The New York Times said Adler had “pursued his goal of being the P. T. Barnum of books by conceptualizing, writing, editing, compiling and hustling hundreds of them—prompting one magazine to anoint him ‘the most fevered mind’ in publishing …”

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