Flushed from hiding by handwriting analysis and grilled like a scoundrel by zealous colleagues, columnist Joe Klein said Wednesday that he signed his best-selling novel “Primary Colors” as “Anonymous” because he wasn’t sure it was any good.
But now that the secret’s out, he said he’ll be writing more fiction under the same byline. After all, he said, “it’s my trade name.”
The Newsweek writer’s concession speech ended a national parlor game which captivated the political set. President Clinton had urged the White House press corps to discover the book’s author, calling it “the only secret I’ve seen kept in Washington in three years.”
The Washington Post, among the many who took up the president’s challenge, reported Wednesday that it had obtained a copy of the novel’s manuscript with handwritten changes and also had gathered copies of Klein’s handwriting. And it then hired a handwriting analyst to compare the two.
Her conclusion: “absolutely consistent throughout.”
“Primary Colors,” which has sold more than a million copies, is a behindthe-scenes tale of the 1992 presidential primary campaign that some participants have described as strikingly true to life.
But Klein told reporters he had no special access or information. “I made the dialogue up. I was never in those rooms. It wrote itself.”