Alabama: Gantt, 1973. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition (Whipporwill Publishers). A rare book. Original red cloth, stamped in silver, front inner paper hinge invisibly strengthened else fine, in an especially bright and clean dustjacket with a pair of 1 1/2 “ tear, else near fine ($4.95 price intact). Laid in is a typed letter, signed B. F. [Bedford Forrest] Carter, presenting this copy to a relative [also a Carter]. The letter’s text mentions a man (“I am well acquainted with Don Josey of Dallas”) who put Carter up at his Josey Ranch in Carrollton, Texas, when Carter was low on luck. hinting at the inspiration for the given name of the central character. Fine / near fine. Item #269
No irreproachable data exists but there is a story attached which no one with credibility has as yet disputed. 75 copies were printed by a vanity publisher (Whipporwill in Alabama). In an interview with Clint Eastwood by film critic and journalism professor Duane Byrge, the actor recalled that one copy was sent to him by the author unsolicited which led to the film adaptation. Later details add that perhaps 2 dozen or so other copies were sent to Carter’s relatives and friends. The book was read by Eastwood’s partner who recommended they buy it, which they did. Part of the sale agreement was that all remaining copies be pulped (destroyed) by the publisher. Apparently this was done to keep the story private while a script was written and the film developed, but once filming began, Eastwood’s company (Malpaso) decided that the book’s mainstream publication might help spur the film and an edited version was published by Delacorte in 1975 as Gone To Texas. The film was made, Carter was given a screen credit, and it was released in 1976. At the time it was unknown that Forrest Carter, who would also soon publish The Education of Little Tree (1976), was the pen name of Asa Earl Carter, a former KKK member and Segregationist speechwriter for George Wallace. He had left politics after a failed run for governor of Alabama against Wallace. No longer welcome in Alabama, Carter moved to Texas, adopted the name Bedford Forrest Carter, claimed Cherokee heritage, and started over as a writer of fiction.