Jenkins, Dan: Semi-Tough
(researched by Jason Baillargeon)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Dan Jenkins. Semi-Tough. New York: Atheneum, 1972 Copyright 1972 by Dan Jenkins Parallel first edition published simultaneously in Canada by McClellan and Stewart Ltd., Toronto.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American Edition is published in trade cloth binding
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
160 Leaves, pp. {10} [1-3] 4-29 [30] 31-56 [57-58] 59-92 [93-95] 96-157 [158] 159-174 [175] 176-179 [180-183] 184-201 [202] 203-239 [240] 241-266 [267] 268-297 [298] 299-300 [301] 302-307 {3}.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The book is not introduced, and there is no editor given.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The pages are approximately 21 cm by 13.5 cm. The type is Serif and is very readable at 105R. Margins: - Top: 2.2 cm - Bottom: 2.9 cm - Right: 2.3 cm - Left: 2.0 cm Space between lines: usually approximately 4 mm, though at times, the author separates breaks in the narrative using a larger spacing of approximately 9mm. Space of page occupied by text: approximately 9.2 cm by 15.9 cm The text is fairly attractive, as it is adequately sized, and the margins are satisfactory as well. The printing seems excellent as well; in the two first-editions I have examined, the type is in impressive condition nearly thirty years after the distribution of the books, and there are no smudges from the ink. There are no chapters; rather, there are three ìparts,î each of which has an introduction page which contain the part (1,2 or 3, with ìpartî being written in large, bold capital letters before the number) the title of the part (written in large, bold italics) and song lyrics (in small regular italics) written by one of the bookís fictitious characters. The first letter in the text of each new part is much larger than the regular text and is in bold print, though it is the same font as the other text. No colophon available.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book is printed on a cream-colored woven paper. The paper is rather thick, smooth-textured and granulated. Surprisingly, after 28 years (as of Feb. 2000), the paper does not show any obvious signs of aging, like discoloration or fragility. There are no stains or tears, either. The top edge, fore-edge, and tail have all been neatly cut, and even the corners of the pages show no visible signs of wear or tear.
11 Description of binding(s)
Binding was done with a medium-brown trade cloth. The grain on the binding is a very tight criss-cross pattern. The covers are approximately 14 cm wide and 22 cm tall. There is a dust jacket with artwork on the cover depicting two characters from the bookóone male and one female. On the reverse side of the jacket, there is a black-and-white photo of the author standing outside ìClarkeís Restaurant" (exact location unknown). An unusual characteristic of this edition is the presence of a dark-yellow/mustard colored paper that covers the cloth binding from the edges of the covers to about 3 cm from the spine. The paper is thick and seems to have been utilized to extend the life of the book, particularly the edges and corners of the covers. It covers both the front and back covers of the book, but again, it only extends to about 3 cm away from the spine. The front cover has a blind serif stamping of the authorís name in bold large (8mm) capital letter; it is located about 8 cm from the top edge of the binding. This stamping is located on the mustard-colored paper previously described. The spine has three gold serif stampings, which are all written in the same vertical line along the spine. Transcription of front cover: DAN JENKINS Transcription of spine: DAN JENKINS | SEMI-TOUGH | ATHENEUM There are endpapers, as well, inside both covers and are red in color. They are not illustrated. Also, the top edge of each leaf is stained light red.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: SEMI-TOUGH | DAN JENKINS | New York 1972 ATHENEUM Verso: A portion of this book has appeared in playboy magazine | Copyright 1972 by Dan Jenkins | All rights reserved | Library of Congress catalogue card number 72-78289 | Published simultaneously in Canada by McClelland and Stewart Ltd. | Manufactured in the United States of America by | Kingsport Press, Inc., Kingsport, Tennessee | Designed by Kathleen Carey Note: The recto, unlike many other title pages, is not centered on the page. Rather, the first line (the title) is left alligned on the page, while the second and third lines (author, publisher, year, etc.) are both right-alligned on the page.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Unknown
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
This particular first-edition is in impeccable physical condition. I cannot find any significant damage or wear to it, with the minor exception of one slightly-frayed lower right corner of the front cover binding. No pages or their corners have been creased, and it seems possible that the book may have been read and then shelved for an extended period of time. It was, obviously, a personally/privately owned copy, but there are no personal writings within the book. There is a dedication in the front of the book: "Once more for June and the dumplings, who surrender their time." The dust jacket is made of glossy white paper, and it is covered by a sheath of clear plastic. Though the plastic did preserve the parts of the jacket that cover the spine, front and back covers, there is noticeable discoloring to the inside flaps of the jacket, which seems to be the only sign of aging to the 28-year-old book. The art on the front cover depicts the bookís narrator, a fictional New York Giants football player, and his girlfriend sitting on a chair, though they face away and do not show their faces. There is a lamp nearby with a base made from a royal blue 1970ís style New York Giants football helmet. All of the cover art is in vivid color. The inside flaps of the jacket contain two items worth mentioning. The first is a quote of acclaim from the famous/infamous football broadcaster Howard Cosell, which says, ìFunny, irreverent, stylish, and insightful. Dan Jenkins is one of the few who understand that sport is not a religion.î The other is a short biographical profile of the author, which says, ìDan Jenkins is a native Texan who has been a writer all his life. A former reporter, sports editor, and columnist in his home state, he is now a Senior Editor at Sports Illustrated, and his by-line appears frequently in that magazine. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.î It is interesting to note that Jenkins left Sports Illustrated 12 years after the first printing of Semi-tough in 1984 following a conflict with a co-worker. He now resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (as of Feb. 2000)
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Extensive research turned up little evidence concerning subsequent editions published by the original publisher, Atheneum, after the release of the first edition in 1972. However, I was able to locate proof of a Book Club Edition, also published in 1972 by Atheneum. The book contains the same amount of pages as the original first edition, 307. There is also an edition published in 1984 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a hardbound, trade-cloth binding version with 320 pages that likely was released to coincide with the release of the author's sequel to the book in 1984. Sources: -www.bibliofind.com, Harvest Book Company -http://infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/session
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Similar to the results from the search for subsequent editions by Atheneum, information about the printing history (impressions made) of the first edition was scarce. After searching online booksellers, there appears to be a number of printings of the first edition. I was able to identify, individually, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th printings of the first edition by Atheneum. The 7th printing is unique from the other impressions as it is the only impression I was able to locate made in 1973. Since the book sold well into the fourth month of 1973 (#10 on Publisher Weekly's April bestseller list, the books's last month on the list), I believe there may have been later printings after the 7thduring 1973. However, I have not been able to locate any hard evidene to support this.And, I have found no numerical designations (10th, 11th, etc) for further printings of the book.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
New American Library, New York (1973). *Note: This is the first paperback version of the novel, it also contains 216 pages. New American Library, New York (1977). *Note: This is the movie edition of the paperback novel. The cover is a photo of the original movie poster, containing Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson and Jill Clayburgh. Also of note, in the middle of the book, there are 8 pages of black and white stills from the movie. In the middle of those pictures is an ad for Newport Cigarettes. Star Books, London (1978). *Note: This book contains 216 pages and is the British paperback version of the book.
6 Last date in print?
Both the hardbound and paperback are out of print as of March, 2000. The hardbound book was last in print in 1991, and though the original book was published by Atheneum, this final printing was made by Macmillian Publishers, who bought the company from Scribner in 1988. The last available paperback copy of the book was last printed a year later in 1992.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
After looking through a number of sources, including, among others,Publisher's Weekly, Bowker's Annual, and 80 Years of Bestsellers, I was unable to find any sales figures for this book in particular. However, Publisher's Weekly did list, for every month that Semi-Tough was on the bestseller list, that the selling price for the book was $7.95.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Like the previous question, sales figures by year were unattainable as well. However, for 1972, though there were no direct figures for this book (which was #10 on the list) the #9 book sold 81,164 copies, and the #11 book sold 79,027 copies, so it follows that Semi-Tough sold anywhere between those two amounts. Source: Publisher's Weekly, Vol.203, No. 6. Feb 5, 1973. Page 41.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
I was able to locate one ad copy for Semi-Tough, though it is advertised as part of a number of books marketed by the publisher, Atheneum. Looking through old volumes of Publisher's Weekly revealed that Atheneum did not attempt to heavily advertize many of its books. The ad I located for this book is very plain and is solid gray. It is a full page. The top of the page has the Atheneum logo above a bold printing of "Fall 1972." There are four major sections of the page, divided by release dates for new and upcoming books. Semi-Tough is listed under the heading "September," and merely says: Semi-Tough A novel by Dan Jenkins. $7.95 The bottom of the ad lists Atheneum's mailing address, and mentions that "Atheneum books are distributed in| Canada by McClelland and Stewart,| Limited and throughout the rest of| the world by Feffer and Simmons, Inc.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
There is an interview with author Dan Jenkins in the Oct 23, 1972, version of Publisher's Weekly in which he promotes the release of his new novel. There is also an cover article in the Nov 7, 1977 edition of Sports Illustrated concerning the release of the movie, Semi-Tough. The cover of the issue is a copy of the movie's poster (described earlier), and the article is written by Jenkins himself, then a senior writer for the magazine. Ironically, the article is more of a promotion for Jenkins himself and his book, as he spends much of the article explaining why he doesn't approve of the film.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Screenplay, 1975, screenplay for the 1977 movie, Semi-Tough. Written by Ring Lardner, Jr. 121 leaves. Theatrical Feature Film, 1977, Semi-Tough. Published by United Artists, Starring Burt Reynolds as Billy Clyde Puckett. TV Series, 1980, Semi-Tough. Published by American Broadcasting Company, Inc.(ABC). (Canceled after less than one month on the air) VHS Videocassette, 1981, Semi-Tough. Published by Magnetic Video, Farmington Hills, MI. Videodisc, 1982, Semi-Tough. Published by RCA SelectaVision VideoDiscs, New York. Videodisc, (? 1980 or 1989 ), Semi-Tough. Published by United Arts Pictures; Pioneer LaserVision. VHS Videocassette, 1991, Semi-Tough. Published by MGM/UA Home Video, Culver City, CA. Widescreen format
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Chinese(Mandarin): Pan Hsia Liu. Taiwan: Chung-hua shu chu (publishers), 1973. (170p). Spanish: Semi-Duro. Barcelona: Grijalbo (publishers), 1972. (277p). Semi-Duro. Mexico City: Grijalbo (publishers), 1974. (277p). Japanese: Tatchi Daun. Tokyo: Sanrio (publishers), 1978. (318p).
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
There are excerpts of the novel published in the Sept. 1972 edition of Playboy magazine. The article consists of 4 sketches pertaining to the subject matter (they were done exclusively for this appearance in the magazine) and begins where the novel begins. However, half-way through the article, there is an interruption in the writing, and the article shifts to the last part of the book for the last half of the article. Source: Playboy. Sep 1972, p92-94, 120, 236-248.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There are two sequels to Semi-Tough. The first, titled, Life Its Own Self: The semi-tougher adventures of Billy Clyde Puckett and them, was released in 1984. The third book in the series, Rude Behavior, was published in 1998. Life Its Own Self: The semi-tougher adventures of Billy Clyde Puckett and them. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. Life Its Own Self: The semi-tougher adventures of Billy Clyde Puckett and them. New York: New American Library, 1985. (paperback) Rude Behavior. New York: Doubleday, 1998. Rude Behavior. New York: Island Books, 1999. (paperback)
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Dan Thomas B. Jenkins was born December 2, 1929, in Fort Worth, Texas. His father was a salesman, and his mother was a local antique merchant.

Jenkins attended Paschal High School, where he wrote for the school newspaper, the Pantherette. Bud Shrake, another well-known writer and one of Jenkins' best friends, attended Paschal with Jenkins.

Jenkins later enrolled at Texas Christian University, where he majored in English. While a student at TCU, Jenkins was hired by Fort Worth's most prominent sports writer at that time, Blackie Sherod. Sherod offered Jenkins a sports-writing job in 1948 with the Fort Worth Press, the city's daily newspaper.

Jenkins graduated from TCU with an English degree in 1953. He left the Press in 1960 when he obtained a position with the Dallas Times Herald, where he remained until 1962.

In 1962, Jenkins attended an audition for America's premiere sports magazine, Sports Illustrated. Jenkins was hired and quickly attracted readers' attentions with his fiery Texan writing style, mixing humor with candid blue-collar language. During his 22-year tenure with the sports magazine giant, he was able to become senior writer, and editor. He earned his most notable recognition from his stories about college football and golf, though he did write about most other sports, including professional football, the platform for his first novel.

In October of 1972, he published Semi-Tough, a novel that documented the life of fictional New York Giants football star Billy Clyde Puckett. Semi-Tough is Puckett's first-person account of the events leading up to the biggest day of his life: the Super Bowl. Jenkins filled the book with heaps profanity, vulgarity, sex, and social commentary on racism.

The timing of the book's publishing was excellent, as the war in Vietnam, communism, and the baby-boomer generation reached pinnacles in the early 70's. The book immediately climbed the bestseller list's, becoming the tenth-best-selling novel of 1972, after only 2 ½ months on the market. The book reached as high as number two on Publisher Weekly's list. Book sales were phenomenal, and the book made Jenkins a millionaire.

While Semi-Tough and its biting taste of Texan culture and life in the National Football League were being eaten up by book-buyers everywhere, Jenkins continued to write for Sports Illustrated. He had married fellow TCU alum June Burrage, a 1951 graduate, not long before the publication of Semi-Tough. He also had three infant children: twins Sally and Marty, and Danny, born a year after the twins.

Sally later followed her father into sports journalism, eventually landing a job with Sports Illustrated covering professional football. All three children chose media-related jobs after graduating their respective colleges.

In 1977, United Artists turned Semi-Tough into a motion picture, and although Jenkins conceded to its production and appreciated certain aspects, he wasn't wholly satisfied with the multitude of differences between the movie and his book.

In 1984, following heated differences with his managing editor, Jenkins left Sports Illustrated. He went on to write monthly columns for Playboy, and continued to contribute golf writings to a number of magazines, including Golf Digest, which he still wrote for in 1999. He wrote six novels after Semi-Tough and followed his most famous novel with two sequels: Life Its Own Self (1984) and Rude Behavior (1998).

Jenkins continues to live with his wife June in Ponte Vedra, Florida, though at 71 in 2000, he still commutes often to his hometown, Fort Worth, Texas.

Useful Sources: Contemporary Authors, Gale Literary Database, Virgo Other Databases, www.galenet.com.| King, Larry. "Dan Jenkins." Publisher's Weekly. Oct 23, 1972; 14-15.| Mulvoy, Mark. "To Our Readers." Sports Illustrated. Apr 18, 1994; 4.| www.dallasnews.com/sports-day/backpage/1107backpage.htm | www.library.swt.edu/wssc/archives/writers/shrake | http://firstsearch.oclc.org | Sports Illustrated. Feb 15, 1982.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Not surprisingly, criticism for Dan Jenkins's Semi-Tough is torn between praise and condemnation. A review in Life magazine well-summarized the cause of this obvious discrepancy, stating, "If you have the stomach for?semi-tough language and spoofing just about everything in modern-day America, this book should be your stick of tea. If?you wear a semi-uptight game face at the loose mention of dope smokers?A-rabs?group sex?then Semi-Tough may give you a case of your old-fashioned red ass." Most critics agreed that Jenkins's novel was not the greatest piece of literature written in 1972; as a review in The New York Review of Books points out, "(Jenkins) has written not a real novel, but a pretty good book of jokes?the book is almost all one-liners and anecdotes, and so long as it is innocently that, Semi-Tough is semi-good." Those critics who disliked the novel mostly criticized the book's vulgarity, lack of substance, and stock characters. Saturday Review said, "The jokes are more pubescent than adolescent...the premise of the book seems to be a kind of gridiron Archie Bunkerism?the incidence of inventiveness and wit in Semi-Tough is so sporadic that the book fumbles. Semi-Tough takes a subject ripe for satire and treats it with all the humor of a towel slap in a locker room?without the sting." Book World gave an even harsher assessment of the novel. "(Semi-Tough) is neither admirable nor serious, but is likely to be a big seller because Jenkins?has a wide following," claims the Washington Post article. "It is festooned with profanity?but locker-room lingo hardly compensates for the slip-shod plotting, clichéd characterizations and slick sentimentality. Semi-Tough strains credulity from the outset." Others?really the majority of critics who looked at the book for its face value rather than its worth as a literary masterpiece?saw a lighter air of comedy instilled in the book's unique flavor. The Wall Street Journal said that "It must be the bluest novel since Portnoy's Complaint?Dan Jenkins has kicked a long field goal with his first novel?he has a raucous comic sense, the skill of parody?the book is funny. It should enthrall all of those dedicated TV-football watchers who ever read anything." The review also notes, "(Jenkins) is savagely funny on the racial aspects of professional sports and the free-flow of derogatory epithets" A Newsweek review of calls it, "outrageously funny?a devastating satire on jocks and jock journalism?it will make you laugh loudly and often?it deserves to become, at the very least, a semi-bestseller." The article continues, "But even veteran Jenkins readers will be amazed at the achievement of his first novel?even Jenkins's secondary characters are almost universally hilarious?Semi-Tough may be the funniest piece of sports fiction you'll ever read." Library Journal added probably the most revealing analysis of the plot and intent of the novel, claiming that Semi-Tough is "loaded with sex and scatology?strips pro football of the mystique that brings so many of us to a screaming frenzy Sunday after Sunday?Jenkins has us believing that under those shining helmets and colorful jerseys are the horniest human beings ever to command top dollar." Works Consulted 1. Halberstam, David. Semi-Tough. New York Times Book Review. Sep 17, 1972: 2, 22. 2. Spencer, Jack. Saturday Review. Oct 14, 1972: 81. 3. King, Larry L. Life. Sep 29, 1972: 24. 4. Sale, Roger. Playboys and a Working Woman. The New York Times Review of Books. Jan 25, 1973: 42. 5. Publisher's Weekly. Jul 3, 1972: 36. 6. Yardley, Jonathan. Super Studs, Super Bowl, Super Bummer. Washington Post Book World. Sep 17, 1972:8. 7. McLellan, Joeseph. Washington Post Book World. Oct 14, 1973: 13. 8. Andrews, Charles R. Library Journal. Oct 15, 1972: 3333. 9. Fuller, Edmund. Football Tales for Older Boys. The Wall Street Journal. Oct 9, 1972: 10. 10. Axthelm, Pete. Scotch on the Jocks. Newsweek. Sep 18, 1972: 109-110.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Not surprisingly, criticism for Dan Jenkins's Semi-Tough is torn between praise and condemnation. A review in Life magazine well-summarized the cause of this obvious discrepancy, stating, "If you have the stomach for?semi-tough language and spoofing just about everything in modern-day America, this book should be your stick of tea. If?you wear a semi-uptight game face at the loose mention of dope smokers?A-rabs?group sex?then Semi-Tough may give you a case of your old-fashioned red ass." Most critics agreed that Jenkins's novel was not the greatest piece of literature written in 1972; as a review in The New York Review of Books points out, "(Jenkins) has written not a real novel, but a pretty good book of jokes?the book is almost all one-liners and anecdotes, and so long as it is innocently that, Semi-Tough is semi-good." Those critics who disliked the novel mostly criticized the book's vulgarity, lack of substance, and stock characters. Saturday Review said, "The jokes are more pubescent than adolescent...the premise of the book seems to be a kind of gridiron Archie Bunkerism?the incidence of inventiveness and wit in Semi-Tough is so sporadic that the book fumbles. Semi-Tough takes a subject ripe for satire and treats it with all the humor of a towel slap in a locker room?without the sting." Book World gave an even harsher assessment of the novel. "(Semi-Tough) is neither admirable nor serious, but is likely to be a big seller because Jenkins?has a wide following," claims the Washington Post article. "It is festooned with profanity?but locker-room lingo hardly compensates for the slip-shod plotting, clichéd characterizations and slick sentimentality. Semi-Tough strains credulity from the outset." Others?really the majority of critics who looked at the book for its face value rather than its worth as a literary masterpiece?saw a lighter air of comedy instilled in the book's unique flavor. The Wall Street Journal said that "It must be the bluest novel since Portnoy's Complaint?Dan Jenkins has kicked a long field goal with his first novel?he has a raucous comic sense, the skill of parody?the book is funny. It should enthrall all of those dedicated TV-football watchers who ever read anything." The review also notes, "(Jenkins) is savagely funny on the racial aspects of professional sports and the free-flow of derogatory epithets" A Newsweek review of calls it, "outrageously funny?a devastating satire on jocks and jock journalism?it will make you laugh loudly and often?it deserves to become, at the very least, a semi-bestseller." The article continues, "But even veteran Jenkins readers will be amazed at the achievement of his first novel?even Jenkins's secondary characters are almost universally hilarious?Semi-Tough may be the funniest piece of sports fiction you'll ever read." Library Journal added probably the most revealing analysis of the plot and intent of the novel, claiming that Semi-Tough is "loaded with sex and scatology?strips pro football of the mystique that brings so many of us to a screaming frenzy Sunday after Sunday?Jenkins has us believing that under those shining helmets and colorful jerseys are the horniest human beings ever to command top dollar." Works Consulted 1. Halberstam, David. Semi-Tough. New York Times Book Review. Sep 17, 1972: 2, 22. 2. Spencer, Jack. Saturday Review. Oct 14, 1972: 81. 3. King, Larry L. Life. Sep 29, 1972: 24. 4. Sale, Roger. Playboys and a Working Woman. The New York Times Review of Books. Jan 25, 1973: 42. 5. Publisher's Weekly. Jul 3, 1972: 36. 6. Yardley, Jonathan. Super Studs, Super Bowl, Super Bummer. Washington Post Book World. Sep 17, 1972:8. 7. McLellan, Joeseph. Washington Post Book World. Oct 14, 1973: 13. 8. Andrews, Charles R. Library Journal. Oct 15, 1972: 3333. 9. Fuller, Edmund. Football Tales for Older Boys. The Wall Street Journal. Oct 9, 1972: 10. 10. Axthelm, Pete. Scotch on the Jocks. Newsweek. Sep 18, 1972: 109-110.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Over a period of less than three months near the end of 1972, Dan Jenkins' Semi-Tough sold enough copies to become one of the top-selling fiction novels of the year. The book's publisher scarcely promoted the novel's release, and still people bought the book in hordes. Semi-Tough's success, like many other bestselling novels of the twentieth century, should be attributed to certain elements, found in the story, that cater to a large audience. Jenkins filled his story with a number of conventions that have been used repeatedly by many authors to create bestselling novels. Creating bestselling fiction has become, within the last century, a very profitable business endeavor, and there is no "mold" for crafting a book that everyone will buy. However, by examining books like Semi-Tough, it becomes apparent that there are numerous trends and traits of bestselling fiction that are common to many novels. Jenkins' novel contains several of these conventions, which helped propel the novel's sales during its tenure on the bestseller's list. Semi-Tough, like many other bestselling fiction novels in the later half of the century, is laden with vulgarity in the form of sex and profanity?elements which tend to interest fiction readers. Jenkins also includes facets of moral and social anxieties in the storyline that were present at the time of the book's publication; this, along with other aspects of the story, likely augmented the timeliness of the novel's release. The novel's success was also hinged?as it is with the novels of celebrity writers like Stephen King and Danielle Steele?on the power of the author's name. People generally acknowledge that an author's status in the literary world plays a major role in their ability to produce bestselling fiction. Big names often sell successfully without major marketing of their product. Authors like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and Ann Rice are prime examples of big-name writers who have the ability to sell thousands of copies of each novel they release simply because buyers trust the name on the product. Anyone who purchases a book rather than borrowing one from the library wants to be as confident as possible that he is spending his money wisely. Celebrity writers like King and Clancy provide a certain comfort level for those buyers; the purchaser feels assured that if he is buying a new book by King, for example, he likely will be satisfied with his purchase. This phenomenon is not limited to recent authors by any means. Joseph Heller made use of his name in 1974 when he released the highly anticipated follow-up to his 1961 masterpiece Catch 22 (Heller's most famous novel which never finished on an annual bestseller list). His follow-up novel, Something Happened, finished fifth on the bestseller list despite being criticized throughout the literary world by critics and readers alike. Kurt Vonnegut also used the power of his name to sell novels with some success. Vonnegut's best-known literary works, like Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five, never made it onto an annual bestseller list, but they did build recognition and a solid readership foundation for him; as a result, three of his less-notable books were bestsellers during the 70s. What is particularly interesting about Jenkins' novel Semi-Tough is that, although Jenkins did have name recognition, it was not the result of a previously-written novel. Most authors who reappear on the bestseller list because of their name recognition earn that recognition by first writing a successful or popular novel. Jenkins obviously did not have this luxury, as Semi-Tough marked the publication of his first novel. Jenkins' celebrity came solely from his position as a senior editor for the popular sports magazine Sports Illustrated at the time the book was released. His high position at the widely-read sports publication meant he often wrote wide spreads in the magazine that were seen on a regular basis by a very large audience. He had a fairly large fan base when Semi-Tough hit bookstore shelves late in 1972; the fan base was built solely on his magazine writing. A Washington Post article affirmed this stating, "(Semi-Tough) is likely to be a big seller because Jenkins, of Sports Illustrated, has a wide following" (Yardley 8). This is evidence that bestselling authors who are able to sell copies of their novels because of their name recognition do not necessarily obtain that recognition through previous novels. Readers, in other words, are satisfied merely with the "name" itself and are not necessarily concerned with why the name is well-known. In any event, readers do notice and buy books based on the name printed on the cover of the novel. It provides a security factor that puts them at ease when they decide to risk their money on the purchase of a novel. A well-known author will sell books more easily than an unknown author because purchasers are already familiar with the author's product; this familiarity, eventually, translates into greater book sales. Another common trend of bestselling fiction that is noticeable in Semi-Tough is the inclusion of vulgar elements of sex and profanity. This seems to be a trend that opened up and broadened as time passed in the latter half of the twentieth century. Beginning with such books as Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1955, Grace Metalious' Peyton Place in 1956, and Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint in 1969, vulgarity in bestselling fiction became a more commonly utilized tool for selling books as the years have gone by. Events outside the literary world surely had a significant impact on the transition towards the acceptance of these devices in literature. Liberalism in the United States reached all time highs with the emergence of the Baby Boomer generation, the sexual revolution, and the war in Vietnam all transpiring at relatively the same time. Literature often reflects conditions of the time during which they are written, and the surfacing liberalism in America rapidly found its way into bestselling fiction during this time period. Profanity and sexual references are constantly present in Semi-Tough. The story is narrated by a Texan football player who cusses freely and frequently participates?and talks about?the act of sex. The most noticeable profane term throughout the book refers to the narrator's rival football team as the "dog-ass Jets." Most of the profanity in the novel is similar to this: nonchalant words merely inserted into the book's conversation for the sake of realism concerning the dialogue of mostly Texan characters. Regardless, though profanity in literature was present at the time of Semi-Tough's publication, the level of profanity in the novel is higher than that seen in many bestselling novels of the time. Sex is seen quite often in Semi-Tough, both in sexual references to women and to the act of sex itself. Most of the narrator's extra-curricular activities, which take place basically anytime he is not playing football, involve a lot of women. Throughout the book, women are never referred to as women; rather, they are called, "wool" for the duration of the book. The obviously derogatory term is not used to be ill-mannered or chauvinistic, but instead it is implemented for the sake of realistically displaying what Jenkins is (humorously) portraying as a professional football player. The "wool" (or women) the narrator describes are always present in the story, whether the action is in a local night club or at the narrator's apartment. In both cases, sex is always discussed during almost every scene of the novel in the freest possible way. Sex happens so frequently that it has almost comical effects for the story. The result is, simply, a lot of sex packed into a fiction novel. The popularity of Semi-Tough is merely one example of readers' general interest in subject matter dealing with sex. Bestselling books by Jackie Collins or Phillip Roth demonstrate the same evidence. Throwing plenty of sex scenes and sexual references into a story tends to earn interest from more people and, of course, increase readership of a novel. This is a common trend among bestsellers. Bestselling fiction often includes aspects of social and moral anxieties in its storyline to make the book more exciting or lively. By playing out these anxieties in a controlled medium like a fiction novel, authors can effectively manipulate and control what is seemingly uncontrollable, unspeakable, or frightening in society. Peyton Place examines teenage sexuality and incest and acknowledges within the story that society regarded both as complete taboo; To Kill a Mockingbird reflects on racism in a small rural community where everyone knows everyone, and something like race relations is almost impossible to change; Lolita inspects teenage sexuality and pedophilia; and The Exorcist looks at general morality, spiritual faith, and evil in the modern world. At the center of each of these books' themes is a social/moral anxiety that the author, using the novel as a means, attempts to comment on and resolve. Although most books have some sort of inner conflict, many bestsellers tend to have at least one that deals with a social or moral anxiety. Semi-Tough comments on a very big social anxiety that, even though it was more prominent in the late 60s and early 70s, is still present after the birth of the 21st century. Racial tension between blacks and whites came to a head as the 60s ended. The civil rights movement was in full effect. And, the year Semi-Tough was released, 1972, two black athletes protested saluting the American flag after they each won medals in the 72 Olympics. They felt the treatment of blacks in the United States was unjust, and thus displayed their dissatisfaction with their divided country to an international audience. People then, as they are now, were often uncomfortable with members of the opposite race or what to call members of the opposite race. Semi-Tough resolves both in a rather crude manner. The narrator of the book?who is a white Texan?never calls a black man in the book anything other than a racial slur. He uses a few variations of slurs, but never calls a black man a "black man," or an "African-American." Rather, anytime the reader encounters a black character in the story?and it happens often?he is presented with a bombardment of racial slurs. Likely, in the early 70s, this was uncomfortable for many people, but as the narrator of the story says, "It's just a word" (Jenkins 4). Jenkins uses the slurs in a matter-of-fact manner that tries to emphasize both the white characters' and the black characters' indifference to the words. Jenkins' comment on society is no different than the ones found in most other bestsellers?it strives to point the problem out so people recognize the problem rather than ignore it. Twentieth century bestsellers are often thrust into their popularity through a combination of many factors. These factors vary from novel to novel, but often, those factors found in one bestseller can be found in another bestseller. Trends for "producing" bestsellers have not changed significantly over the century. They have grown to include new trends and traits, but these facets often parallel life in society at the time a book is released. Elements like sexuality and vulgarity?once uncharacteristic of typical bestsellers?are now found within many of today's bestsellers. The trend is the spawn of revolutionary changes in society during the 60s and 70s. Bestselling fiction always needs some kind of reference point?something that it can rely on to produce sales (if it did not, the book likely would not be a bestseller). Name recognition is one of the easiest ways to market a book in today's culture. People who go to buy a book rather than borrowing one from the library want something they can be assured will not be a waste of their money. Titles, of course, do not always assure that. Readers generally find, however, that certain names can often be relied on to produce quality fiction (and at minimal, worthwhile). Often, writers can gain this celebrity by writing a successful novel (usually a first, quality novel aided by advertising campaigns) and then marketing a second one using the recognition they gained from the first novel. However, as proven herein, name recognition does not necessarily have to come from writing fiction. Celebrity may come from other sources; as long as the author's name is recognizable, he is more likely to sell his novel than an author without name recognition. All of these trends in bestselling fiction are present in Dan Jenkins' bestseller, Semi-Tough. The novel shows that the trends that were present ten and twenty years before its publication were still utilized when Semi-Tough began selling in the fall of 1972. Semi-Tough is an indicator of the standards of the publishing industry because of its rapid rise to the annual bestseller charts in just two and a half months of sales. People settle on purchasing books for a number of reasons, but those listed herein carried heavy weight in generating the popularity that Semi-Tough possessed. Semi-Tough is another bestselling fiction novel that indicates why people choose to buy books and how bestsellers come to be high-selling money-makers for the individuals who write them. Helpful Sources: Bestselling 20th Century American Literature Database. http://www.engl.virginia.edu/courses/entc312/s00/. Gale Literary Database. "Dan Jenkins." http://www.galenet.com/servlet/GLD/hits?c=1&u=CA&t=KW&s=2&r=d&o=DataType&n=50&l=d&NA=Dan+Jenkins&TI=Semi-Tough. Halberstam, David. Semi-Tough. New York Times Book Review. Sep 17, 1972: 2, 22. Jenkins, Dan. Semi-Tough. New York: Atheneum, 1972. King, Larry L. Life. Sep 29, 1972: 24. Yardley, Jonathan. Super Studs, Super Bowl, Super Bummer. Washington Post Book World. Sep 17, 1972: 8.
Supplemental Material
Book Cover for the second sequal to Semi-Tough, Rude Behavior
Photo of the Movie V ersion of Semi-Tough
Photo of Dan Jenkins (from back cover of dust jacket on 1st Edition
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