The strange case of the missing memoir

May 29, 2012: a night that will live in blandness.

Then-WCAX anchor Kristin Carlson sits down with former Governor Jim Douglas for a friendly  interview about the ex-Guv’s autobiography, which was said to be on its way to the printer. Release date: fall 2012. And, as Carlson said in her intro,

During his four terms as Governor, Jim Douglas was seen as a leader who carefully guarded what he said publicly. But now, he’s opening up about his time as Governor and his nearly four decades in elective office.

“Opening up,” heh? This oughta be good.

What follows, of course, is anything BUT good. In fact, it was a textbook display of that signature Jim Douglas combination of blandness and insufferability.

The classic dead-eyed Jim Douglas "smile"

The classic dead-eyed Jim Douglas “smile”

The ex-Guv hints that “there will definitely be some surprises.” And then absolutely refuses to even hint at a single solitary surprise. Sample colloquy:

Douglas: “… the stories I haven’t had a chance to tell.”

Carlson: “Such as?”

Douglas: “Well, you’ll have to wait, Kristin. but I’ll, I’ll have some stories.”

When pressed, Douglas offered a vague list of subjects, “even the press.” He hinted that his book would chronicle the failings of the Vermont media.

What failings?

“Well, I think you’ll have to wait and see what I write.”

Carlson made one more try, asking about one of the book’s alleged themes: “How a Republican can win in Vermont.” Any hints?

“Well, I’ll get into more detail, obviously, in my memoirs…”

Well, thank you, Governor Douglas, for saying absolutely nothing about the topic of this interview. And thank you for wasting our viewers’ time.

Carlson was too much of a pro to vent her annoyance. But Christ on a cracker, that was a thoroughly painful six minutes. The word that came to mind unbidden was “jackhole.” Jim Douglas deigned to grace Channel 3’s airwaves with his presence, and damn it, his presence is all they’re gonna get.

This trip down Memory Lane was prompted by an inquiry from fellow Green Mountain Daily stalwart “BP,” who emailed the group asking whatever became of the Douglas memoir.

The answer? Nothing, apparently. There’s no hint of any publicity after that brief May 2012 outburst. There’s no hint of a Douglas autobiography appearing anytime since, nor any inklings of a pending publication.

There was a book published in 2011, before the WCAX interview, entitled “The Douglas Years: Dedicated to the People of Vermont.” It’s currently ranked #2,523,904 on Amazon.com’s sales chart. But I seriously doubt this is the purported memoir. For one thing, there’s the date discrepancy.

But mainly, “The Douglas Years” is mighty thin gruel, even by Douglas’ standards. It’s a little over 200 pages long. More than half of that is taken up with photographs and transcriptions of Douglas speeches. As for the content, it’s a painfully dry (even by Douglas’ standards) recitation of issues that faced Vermont during his Administration and how they were dealt with. It reads as though it was written by committee.

(No, I haven’t bought the book; I’ve just thumbed through it using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. The Table of Contents alone nearly put me into a coma.)

So I have to conclude that the Great Jim Douglas Autobiography is, after more than two years, missing in action. Did Douglas balk, like a spooked showhorse, when he came face-to-face with putting those closely-guarded stories in print? Did his publisher take one look at the manuscript and judge it unreadably stiff and boring?

I’ve put out a few inquiries via email and to my tens of Twitter followers; so far, no responses. I’ll update if I hear anything.

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