More on Doc

An essay in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review follows up on the story of Harold L. Humes, the eccentric novelist who’s the subject of a new documentary, Doc. Much of the piece reworks information in an earlier Times article, but it does bring the news that we may be hearing more soon about the odd intersection of Humes, Peter Matthiessen, the CIA, and the Paris Review (Matthiessen has acknowledged that he used his Paris Review gig as a CIA cover):

The C.I.A. thread is discussed in greater detail by Matthiessen and others in “George Being George,” an oral biography of [longtime Paris Review editor George] Plimpton scheduled to appear this fall, said Nelson Aldrich, who compiled the volume for Random House. Aldrich worked as an editor at The Paris Review in 1957 and subsequently as a public relations functionary at the Congress for Cultural Freedom. He concurred that the literary magazine had never received money from the congress, though he noted that Julius Fleischmann, a literary socialite and known conduit to the congress, had donated $1,000 to The Paris Review in its early years. Aldrich said it was Fleischmann, not his front foundation, that gave the money, “although who knows, he might have gotten it from his foundation.” (Aldrich married Humes’s former wife, Anna Lou, in 1967.)

Doc Doc

Doc, a documentary about novelist and Paris Review cofounder Harold Louis Humes, opens in New York this week. The New York Times review is here; the paper’s 2007 feature on the making of the documentary is here.

I haven’t seen the film (directed by his daughter Immy), or read Humes’ two novels, but there are lots of intriguing details in the articles: Peter Matthiessen was apparently a CIA agent using his Paris Review gig as a cover; Humes was Norman Mailer‘s campaign manager during his ill-fated mayoral run; he suffered from mental illness and believed he single-handedly prevented World War III.

As the official site for the film points out, Humes’ two novels–The Underground City and Men Die–have been reissued by Modern Library. (Click here for a trailer.)