WAL­TER WHO?

The New York Review of Books - - The Classifieds -

To the Edi­tors:

Please for­give the ex­treme de­lay of this let­ter in re­sponse to Nathaniel Rich’s re­view of Wal­ter Kirn’s book about me [“A Killer Con Man on the Loose,” NYR, May 8, 2014]. To the whole busi­ness I can only say that I barely ever knew Mr. Kirn. He and I first met at LaGuardia Air­port in 1997 and spoke for per­haps twenty min­utes. The next day, we had drinks and din­ner in New York City, last­ing per­haps three hours. In the sum­mer of 2000, he vis­ited me in Cor­nish, New Hampshire, stay­ing for ei­ther one or two nights, an event that made so scant an im­pres­sion that I for­get its ex­act du­ra­tion. Over the next decade, I had only spo­radic in­ter­ac­tion with Mr. Kirn. He re­mained on my hol­i­day greet­ing card list and he and I ex­changed per­haps a dozen or so short Hello-style e-mail mes­sages and tele­phone calls. All com­mu­ni­ca­tion ceased in 2008. In 2013, he paid me an unan­nounced visit at Los An­ge­les County Jail. Not hav­ing seen him for thir­teen years and not hav­ing heard from him for five years, I had for­got­ten all about him and I had to ask his name. In my life­time, in­clud­ing the three forty-fiveminute visits at the jail and his one visit at the court house, Mr. Kirn and I have spo­ken a grand to­tal of per­haps fif­teen hours at the very most. None of the dis­cus­sions ever fo­cused on mat­ters of great im­por­tance. How he could turn this rather lim­ited in­ter­ac­tion into a full-length book about me re­mains ut­terly be­yond my grasp. Not hav­ing read the book, nor hav­ing any par­tic­u­lar wish to do so, I have no opin­ions as to its con­tent. His rea­sons for want­ing retroac­tively to insert him­self so deeply into my life, call­ing him­self a “close friend,” seem ei­ther purely com­mer­cially mo­ti­vated or per­haps speak to a deeper pathol­ogy on which I do not have the ex­per­tise to com­ment.

C. Ger­hart­sre­iter (aka Clark Rock­e­feller) San Quentin, Cal­i­for­nia

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