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Trouble in Happyland

In case you missed it, last weekend’s New York Times had an intriguing story about J. Robert Lennon’s novel Happyland, which is currently being serialized in Harper’s magazine. Turns out Lennon’s novel was originally set to be published by W.W. Norton, but after the editing was done and the text set, Norton’s legal team stepped in with a few concerns. The reason? Happyland‘s main character, doll-company magnate Happy Masters (great name), bore a distinct resemblance to a real-life doll-company magnate, Pleasant Rowland. “They were asking me to remove any reference to dolls or a doll company,” Lennon tells the Times. “I basically refused.” So Norton pulled the plug, Lennon turned to Harper’s, and he’s still looking for another book publisher to take on Happyland.

The piece also mentions Lennon’s most recent book, the vignette collection Pieces for the Left Hand, for which Quillblog has been looking for a while now (it has no North American publisher, alas). Says the Times story: “One of the book’s 100 vignettes is about a novelist who writes a lengthy local history, only to be told by publishers to cut it in half. Hooked on editing, she keeps removing passages from her book until finally only a haiku remains: ‘Tiny Upstate town/Undergoes many changes/Nonetheless endures.'”

On a related quote, Quillblog could swear that back in the day, Timothy Findley encountered some legal problems of his own over his novel Famous Last Words, in which Wallis Simpson featured as a supporting character. Clarification or expansion is welcome in the comments field.

Related links:
Click here for the Times story