Young Rich Lands Book Deal

CORRECTION APPENDED

The old saying goes, like father like son. These days, the Rich family could be exhibit number one.

As renowned columnist Frank Rich ’71 takes a leave from The New York Times to write about American politics, he will not be the only one in the family working on a book.

His son, Simon H. Rich ’06-’07, will be starting of a tome of his own after nabbing a two-book deal from the publisher Random House.

The younger Rich, however, is tackling a decidedly less serious subject than his father.

According to a statement from Tom Perry, the director of publicity at Random House Publishing Group, Simon will be endeavoring to answer such puzzles as “What happens when the Swiss Army takes its only weapon into battle?” and “Is being invisible really all it’s cracked up to be?”

Penning books in the humor category seems fitting because Rich, as the statement takes care to mention, is the president of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine.

The Random House statement described the forthcoming volume as a “book of original funny pieces,” and when reached by telephone on Monday, Rich said that some material he wrote for the Lampoon might be included.

“It’ll probably be a mix, mostly original stuff,” he said of the book, adding, “It’s still a long ways away.”

The proposal that Rich’s agent submitted to Random House has moments of dry humor.

“As a college student I have unique insight into what college students read and what they actually buy,” Rich wrote, according to The New York Observer. “I think they will buy this one, or at the very least, download parts of it off the internet.”

The tongue-in-cheek tone continued in the resume that Rich submitted to Random House.

“I write for Mad Magazine and go to Harvard, where I’m president of the Harvard Lampoon,” he wrote, according to the Observer. “I also write greeting card poetry for Blue Mountain Arts, mostly from the perspective of an old man,”

Both Perry and Rich would not elaborate any further on the books and the deal.

“I’d rather not do an interview at this time,” Rich said.

And while Frank Rich indicated in his Jan. 22 column that he will be back to his Times column by the spring, Simon Rich declined to estimate when he will finish writing the book.

“I can’t really give you an exact date,” he said. “I’ll probably have a clearer idea over the course of the next year.”

Rich’s books will be published by the same company that printed the works of both his father and his mother, New York Times reporter Alex Witchel.* [SEE CORRECTION BELOW.] Frank Rich wrote a memoir, “Ghost Light,” and a collection of theatre criticism, “Hot Seat,” while Witchel penned a memoir, “Girls Only,” and a novel, “Me Times Three,” for the publishing company.

Frank Rich is the former chair of The Crimson’s editorial board.

The web of authorship surrounding Simon Rich extends beyond his family and into college life. Rich is a blockmate of Nick McDonell ’06, who has already written two novels, “Twelve” and “The Third Brother,” the latter of which is partly set at Harvard.

—Staff writer David Zhou can be reached at dzhou@fas.harvard.edu.

CORRECTION

The Feb. 1, 2006, news article, "Young Rich Lands Book Deal," incorrectly referred to New York Times staff writer Alex Witchel as the mother of Simon H. Rich '06-'07. Witchel, who is married to Times columnist Frank Rich '71, is Simon's stepmother.

An initial online correction to this article incorrectly described Witchel's affiliation with the Times. She has been a staff writer for the Times Magazine since 2004.