VIRGIN TERRITORY: She may also be a recent Harvard grad, an occasional music reporter, and a freshly minted memoirist, but Tara McCarthy’s no Elizabeth Wurtzel. Wurtzel’s 1994 Prozac Nation — an ode to the author’s depression — generated interest from Drew Barrymore. McCarthy’s just-out Been There, Haven’t Done That — an ode to the author’s virginity — sounds more like a vehicle for Tori Spelling. McCarthy got a rumored $30,000 (about the current cost of a year at Harvard) to describe how she’s remained technically chaste despite being ”touched, kissed, poked, prodded, rubbed, caressed, sucked, licked, bitten — you name it.” According to a former dorm mate, McCarthy was touched, kissed, poked, etc., by so many that — not trusting her own memory — she allowed ex-paramours to vet the manuscript. One New York travel journalist, annoyed at being conflated with another former flame, demanded that she remove him from the book. McCarthy capitulated without a struggle.
DOUBLE-DEALING: Literary agent Natasha Kern recently conducted an auction for Bruce Fergusson’s thriller The Piper’s Sons that concluded with a $500,000 two-book offer from Dutton. Though Kern had let Dutton think that Bantam and Ballantine were participating, Dutton had, in fact, been the only one bidding. When the deception was uncovered the next day, Dutton publisher Elaine Koster withdrew the offer, then reconsidered, giving Kern a $100,000 offer for the book, which she took. Says Koster: ”We didn’t want the auction to cloud the real issue, which was publishing a book that we really loved.” Although Kern says the other publishers had led her to believe they would be in the auction, she admits, ”At the point where I knew they weren’t going to participate, I needed to state that and I didn’t.” The ethics committee of the Association of Authors’ Representatives is now reviewing the matter, but one editor predicts that if Kern ”has a really hot property, people will do business with her again.” For her part, Kern says Fergusson is happy with the deal, and that there is movie interest in the book, which should be published late next year.