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This Is So Stupid

Whodunit! Unmasking The Author Of Eric Adams’s Self-Published Book

10:59 AM EST on January 11, 2024

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaking at Healing for Heroes Gala in Brooklyn, in front of a painting of himself
Mychal Watts/Getty Images

On Monday afternoon New York Mayor Eric Adams, America's favorite politi-cop and Turkish rom-com supporting actor, told a lie during his weekly press briefing. Adams was being questioned about a book he wrote in 2009, during his time as a state senator, and the lie came when the mayor told the assembled members of the media "that book never got into print because we never went through the proofreading aspect of it."

While the proofreading process is notorious for being a cruel and labor intensive facet of the book industry, the remark was odd given that several reporters were holding bound copies of that book, Don't Let It Happen, at the very same press briefing. The book was released by Xulon Press, which specializes in self-publishing, more than a decade ago; it is, as you read this, readily available for sale on Amazon, or Walmart.com. The same book, as it turns out, where Adams claimed to have fired a gun at school as a child.

Perhaps we should take a step back here. Last week, Eamon Levesque dove into the pages of Don't Let It Happen over at Byline, revealing a book that is every bit the compendium of "life advice from that pager-selling uncle you only talk to at family cookouts" that you would expect from Eric Adams. He is, after all, the man who released a video giving parents step-by-step pointers on conducting a raid on your child's room, so that they could find the heroin stash secreted inside little Liesel's stuffed Psyduck.

His book, which stresses to the reader that "all of the incidents in this book are true," offered more of the same—literally, in the sense that the cover image depicts a lunchbox with a banana, a handgun, a jumbo bag of cocaine, and a comparatively small bag of pretzels in it. Naturally the forward was written by his partner, Tracey Collins. It is rich in pointers for keeping the youth free from the unwanted influence of The Streets, which Adams illustrates with stories from his experience as a police officer and former youth. This is how Adams winds up relating this story of his childhood in the chapter about guns, which is called "Guns." It is best to cue up "Gangsta's Paradise" to read the following:

When I was a child, a friend of mine brought a gun to school…to show off to the rest of the students. This was my first time seeing a real gun. After years of playing 'Cowboys and Indians' with toy guns, I did not believe the gun he was showing us was real. I laughed at his stupid trick and grabbed the gun from him. 'If this gun is real,' I said, 'then it should go off.' I pointed what I thought was a toy gun at my group of friends and pulled the trigger. A round discharged, and only by the grace of God and my poor aim did the bullet miss my friends. The incident scared me so much that I dropped the gun and ran.

Don't Let It Happen

Which brings us more or less back to Monday's press conference. Reporters were wondering if the city's divinely appointed mayor truly popped off a round during recess back in the day? "I never fired a gun in school," Adams told reporters, which seemed to settle that. But Adams went on: "I think the person who, the co-author of the book, may have misunderstood the exact—someone. There was an incident in school where someone pointed what they thought was a toy gun and they may have misunderstood."

The mayor has not yet answered any follow-up questions on the book, and all his press team is saying is that they've contacted the publisher to remove the book from circulation; Hell Gate reported that it is at least no longer available on the publisher's website. His team has claimed that the mayor worked on the book with a ghostwriter, but has refused to identify that ghostwriter.

That Adams is caught up in explaining an expedient and unconvincing tale is nothing new. There was the time he claimed to keep a photo of a dead police officer in his wallet, which was made true-ish thanks to a little bit of regional theater-craft produced by his staff. There are his boasts of leading a proud vegan lifestyle—his name is also on a campaign cookbook, and it's a story he likes to tell bigger and weirder whenever he can—which have been undone by the siren song of mid branzino. But now he has released a great publishing mystery into the wild. So, who authored Eric Adams's self-published book with no credited co-author? Who would dare join the ranks of ghostwriters for a man with such a convulsive attachment to reality, or language, or the generally accepted definition of veganism?

We are now forced to ponder potential suspects, people who could achieve the paranoid swerves of righteousness that inhabit the mind of Adams while still managing the right tone of weird chuckling confidence. Could it have been Steve Harvey, an author of equally questionable tomes whose bold sartorial moves clearly inspired the mayor's own fashion choices? Or maybe Papoose, the gifted Brooklyn lyricist made notorious for his thesaurus-like stylings, who just also happened to give Adams a blurb for that book on plant-based living. We also cannot rule out Lena Dunham, another proud New Yorker and literary mind; was she perhaps inspired to co-author Adams book on the low after watching Precious: Based On The Novel Push, By Sapphire? There's also Tony Schwartz, who has a demonstrated history of literary goon-like behavior for would-be New York powerbrokers with presidential aspirations who love to have lunch.

All fair guesses, and all are skilled enough to vanish in the work of capturing Adams's voice. But it might be worthwhile to ask who has the most to gain by simply turning on a tape recorder, letting Adams talk and transcribing the raw, chunky, unprocessed slurry of life advice that came forth. Former New York mayor Bill De Blasio, for instance, is not above sabotaging his once or future political enemies; consider the case of Charlotte the groundhog, a vocal opponent of police brutality, and consider, too, how much his legacy has riding on this Onion headline. Maybe it was the maitre'd at Nobu trying to settle an old score? Also you can never rule out Hunter Biden, just as a general rule.

Occam's razor would suggest it was, in fact, Eric Adams who wrote the self-published book that has "by Eric Adams" on its cover. But also that would be absurd—why would the mayor say something he knew could so easily be proven false? For now, the most we can say is that someone has betrayed Adams. But once a cop, always a cop, so we can take comfort in the case being solved soon. You can't have concealed weapons, real or imaginary, at the table of success.

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