The author of a biography of Philip Roth who was pulled from print by his original publisher last year after allegations he raped several women and groomed his former college students for sexual encounters when they were older is preparing to publish a book posing as a warning tale of so-called cancel culture.
Blake Bailey’s latest book is set to be printed by controversial Skyhorse Publishing, which picked up his Roth book and an earlier memoir after WW Norton pulled it from print and pledged to donate money to organizations of sexual abuse equaling the advance he had paid to the biographer.
Publishing giant Simon & Schuster has struck a deal to distribute the Skyhorse titles, which include memoirs by director Woody Allen as well as Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s ally who was pardoned by the former president after being indicted by federal officials investigating Russian interference during the 2016 election.
Eve Crawford Peyton, who publicly accused Bailey of raping her as an adult after being her student at Lusher College in New Orleans in the 1990s, said Wednesday it was “disappointing but not surprising” his ex-teacher to write a book. in which he portrayed himself as the victim of cancel culture.
“I told my story, I told the truth and I have no further comment,” Peyton said in a statement.
Bailey, in statements made through a lawyer, previously admitted to engaging in “deplorable” behavior, but denied ever breaking the law.
Bailey’s 900-page volume on Roth landed on the New York Times bestseller list in the spring of 2021 and won praise from some critics, though others criticized the biographer for being too sympathetic. to the mistreatment of women by his subject during his literary career. .
Among those who found Bailey, 59, too soft on Roth’s misogyny were several of his former students at Lusher, who spoke of encounters they had with him because they found it traumatic to watch his profile soaring after his earlier biographies on literary stars John Cheever. and Richard Yates have been published.
A number of former students Bailey taught eighth grade in the 1990s said he stayed in touch with them for years, portraying himself as a life and career mentor. They gave public interviews to local and national media about sexual encounters with him in their early adult lives, with Peyton describing how he raped her.
Their stories prompted a publishing executive named Valentina Rice to go public with her accusation that Bailey raped her in 2015 when they were both guests for the night at the home of a New York Times book reviewer. .
WW Norton later permanently withdrew Roth’s biography and a 2014 memoir by Bailey while pledging a six-figure donation to organizations fighting sexual abuse. Within weeks, Skyhorse announced plans to republish Bailey’s Roth book, even after Bailey faced additional charges of abuse and harassment at Old Dominion University in Virginia, where he most recently taught in as a visiting professor.
A law firm hired by Old Dominion investigated these allegations and released a 92-page report concluding that Bailey had sexually assaulted and harassed at least two women at the university. Administration officials were aware of the incidents but did not hold him responsible, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.
If the Skyhorse publicity is to be believed, Bailey’s forthcoming memoir – an ebook called Repellent – paints him as prey to “disturbing forces” seeking to undo him and Roth because they are fallible human beings.
The book promises a self-reflection by Bailey on his “capricious behavior” while purporting to reflect “on the extent to which the personal lives of writers should affect the perception of their work”.
On Tuesday, site lithub.com was the first to report on Repellent, which has an expected release date of April 2023.
“While we shouldn’t hand it over to Skyhorse under any circumstances, …their branding is extremely consistent,” the website wrote in its Repellent post.