NEW YORK – In the paperback edition of "My Life," President Clinton (search) acknowledges that his memoir may have been too long, recounts some friendly faces from his book tour and some odder ones sighted under the influence of anesthesia as he underwent heart surgery last September.
"At first I saw a series of dark faces, like death masks, flying toward me and being crushed," writes Clinton, whose book comes out May 31 in both trade and mass market paperback. "Then I saw circles of light with the faces of Hillary, Chelsea, and others I cared about flying toward me, then away into a bright, sun-like source."
When Clinton regained consciousness after surgery, he "waved to people, said I was all right, and laughed." At least, that's what his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search), told him. The former president himself doesn't remember.
"My Life" (search) has sold just under 2.2 million copies in its 957-page hardcover edition, and interest apparently is strong for the paperback. The trade paperback, which has the same dimensions as hardcover, will have a first printing of 300,000 — 50,000 copies more than originally announced. The mass market paperback, a cheaper, pocket-sized edition, will have two volumes, the first with a printing of 600,000, the second in late June at 575,000.
Much of the new material — a 12-page afterword, and a brief preface — summarizes Clinton's recent activities, from the building of his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., to raising money for Tsunami victims. He also offers a quick analysis of last year's presidential election, urging fellow Democrats not to move "hard to the left."
Clinton acknowledges complaints about the book's length and names a possible culprit, his wife. He calls the senator's memoirs, "Living History," a "fine book" (he has called his own book "pretty good") and says that her success "added to the pressure" for him to meet a June 2004 deadline.
"Most people thought it was too long — a fair criticism. Thomas Jefferson once said that if he had had more time he could have written shorter letters," writes Clinton, whose afterword helps make the trade paperback even longer, 969 pages.
Many reviewers were bored by "My Life." The Associated Press likening it to being trapped "in a small room with a very gregarious man who insists on reading his entire appointment book, day by day, beginning in 1946." Clinton directly mentions only a favorable review, by novelist Larry McMurtry, and otherwise pans the press for caring more about gossip: "The reviewers who were interested in people, politics and government seemed to like it better than those who weren't."
He remembers a better reception on his promotional tour, such as the young readers who thought the book would "offer guidance about how they, too, could live their dreams." He also notes those of "modest means" who had purchased a copy of the hardcover, which has a suggested retail price of $35.
"When I saw how many people of modest means came to the book signings, I worried about my long and heavy book also being too expensive," writes Clinton, whose book has a $17.95 suggested price in trade paperback and $7.99 for each of the mass market volumes.
"I can't change the length, but I hope the paperback edition, in reducing the weight and cost, will make `My Life' accessible to a new round of readers."