Sequel to the prolific fantasy writer’s previous autobiography, Bio of an Ogre (not reviewed).
After the usual biographical details (a summary of the previous book; a childhood spent in England and Spain, and on to America, where he developed from a child considered subnormal into a superior college student), Anthony emphasizes the determination and persistence necessary to break into print (a workaholic, he considers “writer’s block” merely an excuse for not getting on with the job). With his straightforward, honest approach, Anthony has earned a certain notoriety in the publishing world: he never backs down when threatened by bullies, nor backs off when the facts are on his side (and, since he checks very carefully, mostly they are). He’s dedicated to his readers and spends two days a week answering fan mail. From this correspondence—the fans often pour their hearts out to him—he estimates that one in three or four girls suffer some form of sexual abuse: an appalling statistic, representative or not. Puzzled and resigned, he details the truly disgraceful behavior of most publishers—the current one not excepted—ranging from malevolent incompetence through outright fraud. His fellow SF/fantasy writers evince similarly complex conduct: Isaac Asimov (courageous, but in person a compulsive grabber of female breasts and buttocks); Keith Laumer (a snake in the grass, even before the stroke that tipped him over the edge); Gordon R. Dickson (a drunk who never fulfilled his potential); the irascible Harlan Ellison (a personality clash if ever there was one); the talented, tragic John Brunner. Editors get the treatment, too, from the meddlesome Lester Del Rey to the witty host of the famous Milford Writers’ Conferences, Damon Knight, who allows personal remarks as the basis for critical judgments.
This unsparingly forthright second memoir should ruffle some feathers that badly need ruffling.