The Realist Archive Is Now Complete


For the last three years, Ethan Persoff has been posting the full run of Paul Krassner's magazine The Realist on the Web. That archive is now complete. I wrote about Persoff's project here on Hit & Run when it started, and for those of you who aren't familiar with The Realist I'll quote the description I offered back then:

In 1958 Paul Krassner set out to create a Mad magazine for adults. He was well-qualified for the task, being both a former Mad contributor and, in fact if not always in spirit, an adult. The result was The Realist, a journal whose great innovation was to refuse to label which articles were journalism and which were satire, and sometimes to add just enough truth to a piece of fiction that readers would be left completely befuddled as to what, if anything, they should believe. Some call it a prelude to the underground press. I call it a prelude to the Internet.

Krassner's most infamous hoax (and probably his best article) was "The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book," which posed as a series of outtakes from William Manchester's The Death of a President. It begins with some stories about JFK that were well-known but had not yet been reported, grows steadily less reliable, and concludes with Lyndon Baines sticking his Johnson in the president's throat wound. It's a testament to Krassner's literary skill—or the average reader's gullibility, or LBJ's unpopularity—that many people were fooled.

Some reading to get you started: a great interview with Ken Kesey, Lenny Bruce's ruminations on his troubles with the law, Robert Anton Wilson (writing as "A. Nonymous Hack") on his experiences working for a "schlock factory," and Krassner's brilliant investigative satire, "Who Killed Jerry Rubin?"

Joel Schlosberg has some more Realist links here. And I interviewed Krassner for an article on the yippies back in 2008.