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 24 hours. Published in 1961 it was hailed as a novel that challenged racial stereotypes. Other novels include “The Maniac Responsible”, which examines the why of a rape-murder case and was hailed by Newsweek as “a work of art.”
Gover also has a lot of stories about the people he has met and befriended during his lifetime as 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.
Of his arrest with Jim Morrison you may remember the tale 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 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, with Morrison dropping 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, engaging in philosophical conversations, and Morrison suggesting that he write a screenplay of Gover’s novel “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 that Morrison was going to be the show. Gover took his girlfriend Beverly along and Jim was supposed to bring Pam Courson, his longtime girlfriend and Cosmic Mate. Prior to leaving Jim and Pam got into an argument and the group left for Vegas sans Pam.
Dinner in Vegas was uneventful and afterward the party headed to a club called The Pussycat, where Morrison lit a cigarette and jokingly smoked it like a joint. One of the bouncers, seeing a racially mixed group with a couple of “longhairs,” pulled a billyclub and hit Morrison over the head and he started bleeding. After that chaos ensued and the club’s security called the police. Upon their arrival the police saw a bleeding Morrison 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 maybe got worse. Luckily, Gover’s girlfriend bailed them out before the end of the cop’s shift.
Gover lost touch with Morrison after Jim 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 the copy of “The Maniac Responsible” back to Gover without a note. Gover 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 novel is Two Brothers, which, like The $100 Misunderstanding, is told from two different points of view. Two Brothers can best be described as an economic thriller, perhaps a genre Gover has invented. It’s about two brothers, Robert and John, whose fortunes in life have drastically diverged: The dashing, athletic Robert ends up destitute in a mental hospital, while 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 who is trying to blackmail John and succeeds in kidnapping his girlfriend. Like its author’s life, it’s a novel that will keep you guessing as to what will happen next.
Originally published September 22, 2009. This article also appears in The Doors Examined.