Writing the biography of a well-known person in pop culture is an assignment fraught with trap doors, two-way mirrors, and shackles. Some writers even disdain their subjects. Others hopelessly suck up to the person, if living, in hopes of winning their favor.
Journalists working the genre, however, are usually after something more. They took on the life of an individual because they believe — through professional research and interviews — that they can add more color or depth to what’s known about the figure’s public and private lives.
Today’s Mr. Media guest, Larry “Ratso” Sloman, has trod the path of biography and ghostwritten autobiographies a number of times in his career.
He wrote Steal This Dream about the life of 1960s dissident Abbie Hoffman. He helped Howard Stern pen his life story in two memorable books, Private Parts and Miss America. When Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers needed someone to help tell his story, Kiedis turned to Sloman.
The book many people remember Sloman best for, however, may well be his chronicle of Bob Dylan’s remarkable 1975 Rolling Thunder Review concert tour, On the Road with Bob Dylan. That is also where he earned his unusual nickname, which I’m told he wears with pride like a badge of courage.
Sloman’s latest book, written with William Kalush is The Secret Life of Houdini, the Making of America’s First Superhero.
Happy Birthday to writer/celebrity collaborator Larry Ratso Sloman, an early guest on Mr. Media! You might know Larry for any number of projects, but in this 2007 interview, we talked about his Houdini biography and his work as Howard Stern’s ghostwriter on the bestselling Private Parts!