CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—After four years refining America's cultural icons and finding authors who could write fluently about them, editors Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors today saw the release of their masterwork, A New Literary History of America, published by the Harvard University Press.
But "literary" is a misnomer; the 1,095-page volume contains articles about not only authors and their works, but films, radio shows, museums, photography, jazz, skyscrapers, cybernetics ... and one porn star.
"Gerald L. Early, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, was the one who suggested Linda Lovelace," reports Patricia Cohen in the New York Times. "Mr. Early argued that the memoir had been the dominant literary genre during the past 40 years, and that Linda Lovelace’s autobiographies were 'the prototype, the most sensational, the hot center of what storytelling in America in the present age is.'"
Linda's books, all allegedly autobiographical, include two written while she still had ambitions as an adult personality, Inside Linda Lovelace and The Intimate Diary of Linda Lovelace, as well as two after her "realization of victimhood," Ordeal and Linda Lovelace: Out of Bondage, both co-authored by Mike McGrady, a reporter for Newsday who also created the famous literary hoax Naked Came the Stranger—which itself inspired an early adult film of the same name.
Marcus and Sollors assigned the Lovelace section to New York-based journalist and critic Ann Marlowe, who reportedly focused not on Lovelace's best-known creation, the protagonist of Deep Throat, but on the four memoirs, which reviewer Laura Miller noted on Salon.com "promise to show their audiences the impolite 'truth' behind one facade or another, and the sad trajectory of Linda Lovelace's notoriety illustrates our insatiable craving for such 'confessions'—as well as the unreliability of their narrators."
Linda Lovelace aka Linda Boreman was a complicated person, and despite journalist Eric Danville's 2001 attempt, The Complete Linda Lovelace, it's unlikely that a true version of her life will ever be published. Documentarians Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, however, did a fairly good job with their Inside Deep Throat, interviewing just about everyone connected with the original 1972 film who's still around to give "testimony."
The "main character," however, is no longer with us, having died in a car accident in 2002—reportedly as she was about to return to the adult industry, having done a pictorial for Leg Show magazine in 2001 after having become disillusioned a few years earlier with Women Against Pornography founders Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon.
Hopefully, future "cultural histories" will deal more with the substance of Linda's contribution to sexual freedom in America than merely an examination of her wildly inaccurate memoirs.