King, Grisham to read for Webb

Two of the world’s best-selling authors will be sharing the stage at the Paramount Theater in September to raise money for Virginia’s best known fiction-writing politician. On September 24, publishing biz heavyweights Stephen King and John Grisham will talk politics and read from new work to raise money for Democrat and novelist James Webb, who is challenging Senator George Allen in the November 7 election.

However, the event seems to play right into one of Allen’s ongoing lines of attack, which has involved ridiculing Webb’s literary pretensions. In the wake of the "Macaca" fiasco, which has helped Webb to a slight lead in the polls, Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, wasted no time getting back on message.

"Since his whole campaign is based on fiction, having two fellow fiction novelists campaign for him is not a surprise," said Wadhams, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We’re gratified the Hollywood movie producer and fiction novelist finally made an appearance in Virginia," Wadhams added, using the same "out of touch Hollywood guy" metaphor that Allen tried to work on S.R.Sidarth, a.k.a Macaca, an Indian-American UVA fourth-year who had been video-taping Allen for the Webb campaign. "We were about to file a missing persons report on him, " said Wadhams. Ba-da-boom!

Grisham, still favoring short, unambiguous titles that begin with "the,"just finished his first non-fiction book, "The Innocent Man," the story of Ron Williamson (once drafted by the Oakland A’s), who was convicted of raping and murdering a waitress in 1988 and spent nine years on Oklahoma’s deathrow before having his sentence overturned. Stephen King, who seems to have softened his horror fiction in recent years, just finished Lisey’s Story, a novel about a woman who discovers after his death the secrets her husband had kept from her. According to the Times-Dispatch, Grisham hopes to fill the 1000-seat theater for the reading and discussion.

Tickets for the September 24 event, which starts at 7pm, are $100, $500, and $2100. Information about the event will be available at Webb’s headquarters on the Downtown Mall next week.