Robert Gover has a story to tell. Well, a few actually. He’s a critically acclaimed author for his novel The $100 Misunderstanding, about a college boy who meets up with a teenage prostitute and events push them together for twenty-four hours. Published in 1961 it was hailed as a novel that challenged racial stereotypes. Other novels include The Manic Responsible which examines the ‘why’ of a rape-murder case and which was hailed by Newsweek as “a work of art”. Gover also has many stories about the people he has met and befriended over the lifetime of an author. He corresponded with his literary hero Henry Miller, James Baldwin tried to talk him into moving to Paris, he had a few drinks with Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal served him cheese, he was kicked out of a restaurant with Bob Dylan, and he was arrested in Las Vegas with Jim Morrison.
You may remember the tale of his arrest with Jim Morrison from the essay, A Hell of a Way to Peddle Poems which he wrote for Frank Lisciandro’s An Hour for Magic. In 1967 Gover got a call from the editor of The New York Times Magazine asking him if he’d like to write an article about an up and coming rock band called The Doors, and their lead singer Jim Morrison. Gover agreed and met with Morrison. However, he disagreed with the editor’s angle that Morrison was a creation of the Hollywood hype machine and he was taken off the assignment. He and Morrison became friends. Morrison dropped by Gover’s house on the beach at all hours of the day or night, crashing on a couch, reading over Gover’s shoulder as he wrote a novel, and engaging in philosophical conversations. Morrison suggested that he write a screenplay of Gover’s The Maniac Responsible that Morrison would also star in and direct. At the time the novel was already optioned to a producer and nothing more came of it. On one of his visits Morrison said he’d never been to Las Vegas, so Gover volunteered to give Jim the tour of Vegas, including dinner and a show. Little did Gover know Morrison was going to be the show, that was January 28, 1968.
Gover took his girlfriend Beverly along and Morrison was supposed to bring Pam Courson, but prior to leaving Morrison and Courson got into an argument and the trio went to Vegas sans Courson. Dinner in Vegas was uneventful and afterward their party headed to a club called The Pussycat. Upon arrival Morrison lit a cigarette smoking it like a joint. One of the bouncers, seeing a racially mixed group with a couple of ‘longhairs’ pulled a billyclub out and hit Morrison over the head and he started bleeding. After that, chaos ensued. The club’s security people called the police and upon their arrival they saw the bleeding Morrison and assumed he was the source of the trouble and arrested him. They also arrested Gover on the general principle that since he also had long hair he should be arrested. During the ride to the police station Morrison’s demons kicked in and he started baiting the police. He wouldn’t stop even after they threatened “a date” after their shift was over, a not so subtle euphemism for being worked over. After booking, Morrison’s behavior didn’t abate and perhaps got worse. Luckily, Gover’s girlfriend bailed them out before the end of the cops’ shift.
Gover lost touch with Morrison after Morrison asked him to accompany The Doors on their European tour in ‘68 to document it for a book. With his novel to finish, Gover took a pass and a disappointed Morrison sent his copy of The Maniac Responsible back to Gover without a note. He never heard from Morrison again.
More recently, Gover has been writing non-fiction books on ‘Astrological Economics’ and has returned to fiction. His most recent is Two Brothers which, like The $100 Misunderstanding, tells a story from two different points of view. Two Brothers can best be described as an economic thriller, perhaps a genre he has invented. It’s about two brothers, Robert and John, whose fortunes in life have drastically changed. The dashing, athletic Robert ends up destitute in a mental hospital. John the awkward, introverted brother makes a literal fortune. As Robert and John struggle to reconnect with each other after decades of separation, they’re hounded by a murderous private security guard trying to blackmail John, and who succeeds in kidnapping his girlfriend. Like its author’s life, it’s a novel that will keep you guessing as to what happens next.