Doc | 2008
A brilliant, precocious student (he began MIT at age16), Harold L. Humes (AKA Doc Humes. 1926-1992) became a meteoric literary phenomenon when in 1958 at age 32 he published The Underground City and in 1959 a second, equally acclaimed novel, Men Die. The novels, which take on timely themes of war, racism, politics, and conspiracy, have been out of print for almost 50 years. With fellow expatriates, Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton, Humes co-founded the prestigious literary journal, The Paris Review in 1953. Humes was a peripatetic "talking machine" (so dubbed by George Plimpton), who for decades charmed, confounded and infuriated his distinguished friends and far-flung family. Plimpton, Norman Mailer, Paul Auster, Peter Matthiessen, William Styron and Timothy Leary recall a Zelig-like figure who led protests against the cabaret card laws and for the right to sing in Washington Square Park. He championed the use of medical marijuana; built a paper house; shot a Beat film of Don Quixote called Don Peyote; and managed Mailer's 1961 run for Mayor of New York. Ultimately, Humes' literary aspirations were overshadowed by mental illness, including paranoia and broadcasting delusions.