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The inside scoop on the book world

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SIX DEGREES OF LOUIS BEGLEY: Katie Couric revealed on Today that late spree killer Andrew Cunanan had been spotted leafing through Louis Begley’s book About Schmidt in Miami. This suggests he may have been familiar with Begley’s earlier work As Max Saw It. Begley fans know that As Max Saw It features a gay character who commits suicide (like Cunanan!) and who owns a home on Lake Como (like Versace!). Here are some other alleged murderers orbiting around the novelist: — Begley is pals with Mary Jo White — the U.S. attorney responsible for prosecuting the…World Trade Center bombers. — Begley works at the same firm as attorney Stephen Friedman, who is married to Little, Brown editorial director Frederica Friedman, who is publishing the memoirs of Paula Barbieri, who was intimately involved with…O.J. Simpson. — Begley was president of PEN, whose membership includes Norman Mailer, who spent quality time with…serial killer Gary Gilmore.

You can draw your own conclusions.

BOY TROUBLE: Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia, the bible on troubled girls, has been a Ballantine paperback best-seller for more than two years. So it was only a matter of time before a book for troubled boys came along. Or two books. Or possibly four. Random House has paid a rumored $500,000 for Rescuing Ophelia’s Brothers: Hearing Boys’ Voices, while sister imprint Ballantine has proffered the same for Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys (Pipher has nothing to do with either title). ”It’s a mess,” says an editor at a rival house. ”They’re both going to be calling the Today show and trying to book their authors for the same reasons.” Meanwhile, two other proposals are circulating — Teenage Boys: A Species of Their Own and The Secret World of Boys.

RADICAL CHEEK: Bonfire of the Vanities author Tom Wolfe has a new release from Bantam Doubleday Dell, but it’s not his long-awaited ”next novel.” Taking a chapter from J.D. Salinger’s nonbook, Wolfe is recycling a novella entitled ”Ambush at Fort Bragg” — previously published in Rolling Stone — in audio-book form, with Primal Fear star Edward Norton (a fave of Wolfe’s) narrating. Bantam Audio prez Jenny Frost claims this is the first major author book on tape without simultaneous print publication; she’s ordered 80,000 copies.

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