Aim For Life: The Confessions of a Hope Fiend.
Typed manuscript, duplicated. 178pp. + title sheet, contained in a manilla envelope with handwritten title label affixed.
An early draft of “Confessions of a Hope Fiend”, Leary's account of prison life, escape and life in exile, containing numerous differences to the published text and crediting Brian Barritt as co-author (Barritt later claimed to have ghostwritten much of it). The second sheet (like the title page, on slightly heavier paper stock) bears the heading: “This is free information. If possible duplicate this book and distribute freely - for love and not for money”, a statement suggesting that the manuscript may have been obtained or distributed without Leary’s knowledge or authorisation. In any case, it appears to have evaded documentation since.
An erratum below the statement notes that p.148 is missing (a segment of Mike Zwerin’s interview with Leary and Eldridge Cleaver; the remainder of the interview is transcribed over five pages, none of which appears in the published edition).
Leary employed several working titles for the book: variously, “Escapades” (as recalled by Barritt in his autobiography, “The Road of Excess”), “It’s About Time” (a phrase later used by Leary as the final three words in “Flashbacks”, his own autobiography), and, as here, “Aim For Life” (referred to by Dick Lee and Colin Pratt in their book on the Operation Julie LSD bust).
The genesis of the book’s publication, like the story it tells, was notoriously convoluted, and involved (among others) Gene Gutowski (a Polish film director Leary met through Roman Polanski), Alan Schwartz (a New York literary lawyer), and exiled French arms dealer Michel Hauchard, all of whom received substantial percentages of Bantam’s $250,000 advance (especially the latter, who had Leary sign the rights over to him).
In “Operation Julie”, Lee and Pratt report that “Leary asked Barritt if he would agree to be co-author of Aim for Life to prevent all the profits going to Hauchard” (in return for the public exposure), while in his biography of Leary, Robert Greenfield mentions that “Barritt was then informed by the publishers that he could not be credited as co-author, but that if he agreed to this stipulation, he would receive $40,000” (an amount it’s doubtful he ever saw). Greenfield also states that the book underwent as many as twelve rewrites, though according to Barritt, all of the early drafts were lost.
In his Leary bibliography, Michael Horowitz notes that “Some versions of the manuscript of Confessions of a Hope Fiend were seized with Leary’s archives [from Horowitz’s home] by the FBI in 1975 and used by them in an attempt to determine the identities of those aiding his 1970 prison escape.”
As well as sections omitted from the published book (sometimes entire paragraphs), and numerous other alterations (including to the dialogue), the manuscript features names which were subsequently changed. It also refers by name to Leary’s fourth wife, Rosemary, who in the published version became simply ‘She’ or ‘Her’ (Rosemary left Leary in October 1971).
“Confessions of a Hope Fiend”, Leary’s only mass market paperback, appeared in only one printing, and this early and variant manuscript of it, discovered in Amsterdam (though its origins are unknown), is the only such copy this cataloguer has encountered.
Partial offsetting to title sheet, o/w Very Good plus in somewhat worn and discoloured envelope.