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Jerzy Kosinski’s Fall From Grace: Investigating a Literary Smear Marketing campaign

The Instances known as the very originality of the Voice article into query. Corry reported that Kosinski phoned Victor Navasky, the editor of The Nation, after he heard that journal was getting ready a narrative on him. It was not true, Navasky instructed Corry, however Kosinski’s name aroused suspicion, so Navasky assigned a author to research. When phrase of that obtained round, Navasky added, The Nation obtained many calls. “Among the many callers, Mr. Navasky says, was Eliot Fremont-Smith…who needed to know what The Nation had heard.” Corry continued: “The Nation’s story was dropped, Mr. Navasky says, when the author assigned to do it misplaced curiosity.”

On the quilt of The New York Instances Journal, shot by Annie Leibovitz, 1982.ANNIE LEIBOVITZ/TRUNK ARCHIVE/THE NEW YORK TIMES.

It could appear that Corry had settled the matter for good, however the size and tone of the Instances article smacked of apparent overkill. The mud the Voice had flung—verified or not—caught. Kosinski ceased to be a famous person. He was now a author completely beneath suspicion.

He spent almost a decade out of the limelight, now not even the unhealthy boy who flaunted his familiarity with town’s intercourse golf equipment, as a result of that they had been closed by the AIDS epidemic. He and von Fraunhofer spent increasingly more time overseas. They have been hardly ever talked about within the gossip columns, till February 15, 1987, once they have been married within the residence of the socialite Marian Javits, with solely 28 associates in attendance, together with the Rosenthals, the Gelbs, the Brzezinskis, and the Erteguns.

Kosinski labored 5 years on his subsequent ebook, which was postponed repeatedly. He additionally reportedly had a string of affairs with youthful girls. I used to be at a celebration one night time when his identify got here up. “I see that author Jerzy Kosinski in my constructing day by day,” a younger lady volunteered, including, “His girlfriend has the residence under mine.”


Sooner or later in 1985, Kosinski got here to Self-importance Truthful to pitch an concept to the director of pictures, Elizabeth Biondi, who requested me to sit down in on their assembly. Kosinski had all the time recognized himself as a photographer in addition to a author. In 1976, he mentioned, his pal Jacques Monod, the French Nobelist biochemist, studying that he had solely a short while to dwell, had invited him to doc his dying. Kosinski was proposing a photograph essay of Monod’s closing phases.

The Voice and Instances articles have been nonetheless a lot talked about within the publishing world, however since there was a 3rd individual with us that day, Kosinski and I prevented any point out of them. He was not the person I knew, nonetheless; the aptitude was gone, alongside together with his biting humorousness. That was the final time I noticed him.

Tina Brown, then Self-importance Truthful’s editor, declined the photograph essay, which was printed in Esquire in March 1986. In 1988, Brown assigned Stephen Schiff to put in writing a Kosinski profile for the June challenge, pegged to the publication of his long-delayed novel, The Hermit of 69th Road. I keep in mind lending Schiff my copy of The Painted Chook, however I recused myself from participating within the article, which was known as “The Kosinski Conundrum.”

Kosinski gave Schiff a beneficiant period of time, however it appears as if in return Schiff gave the novelist a straightforward journey. He repeated with out query Kosinski’s accounts of his terrible childhood and his marriage to Mary Weir. When he requested Kosinski to elucidate how he obtained out of Communist Poland to come back to America, Kosinski snapped, “I’m not going to inform you my life. No. I write fiction. I don’t write biography.” He introduced that line of questioning to an finish by saying, “Look, I got here to America in such a style that the one method to safe the way forward for those that helped me was to keep up that type of a fiction.”