The latest in book news the week of Sept. 28, 1990 -- Get the leaked details on Norman Mailer's upcoming novel and George Michael's autobiography

Rose Is Not a Rose
If Pete Rose can’t keep a secret, Simon & Schuster can. The publishers of the forthcoming Hustle: The Myth, Life, and Lies of Pete Rose, by Michael Sokolove, have successfully kept advance copies out of the hands of reviewers. Sources inside the firm say that Hustle depicts a cankered Rose and reveals that his teammates were aware of his gambling as long ago as his rookie year, 1963.

Now that the much-anticipated manu-script for Harlot’s Ghost has been completed, details about Norman Mailer’s latest novel have begun to leak ( out: Random House editor Jason Epstein con rms that the novel is about the CIA, but insists, cryptically, that ”it is not a spy novel.” One of the few people who have actually read all of the 2,600-page manscript, Epstein promises that it will more than live up to literary expectations. ”Norman gambled everything. But I think he pulls it off.” Mailer, meanwhile, is hedging his bets. ”At its worst, I think Harlot’s Ghost is a good book and reads well,” says the author. ”At its best, I would hope for a little more than that. I would hope, for instance, that Jason Epstein is a phenomenally accurate critic.” The book will be published in the spring.

How badly do American publishers want George Michael’s autobiography? Badly enough, it seems, to steal it. A copy of the manuscript — coauthored by Tony Parsons — was recently reported missing from the London offices of Michael’s literary agent, A.P. Watt. An investigation by the police yielded few clues, but in publishing circles, rumors abound: A.P. Watt is about to close a deal with an as-yet-unnamed American publisher, but the London press is speculating that the manuscript may have been taken by a rival rm anxious to preview the book before responding with a higher bid. Others believe the theft may be a clever publicity stunt orchestrated by someone in Michael’s camp, a possibility that the singer’s London publicist, Connie Filippello, denies. ”If you’re organizing a publicity stunt,” she points out, ”you don’t get the police involved.” A representative at Michael Joseph, the London firm that owns the U.K. rights, suggests that the manuscript is so hotly coveted because it represents the first time the usually reclusive Michael has willingly dropped his persona (as opposed to his pants).