NEW YORK (AP) – Reviews have been discouraging and conservatives are on the attack, but booksellers still expect the best as they brace for Tuesday’s release of Bill Clinton’s “My Life,” the year’s most anticipated nonfiction book.

“It’s like adult Harry Potter mania. We haven’t seen anything like this since J.K. Rowling came here,” said Michael Link, a bookseller for Politics & Prose, a Washington-based store that will stay open late Monday night and begin selling “My Life” at midnight Tuesday.

Alfred A. Knopf has given the former president’s memoirs a first printing of 1.5 million.

The public gets its first official look Tuesday, but promotion really began in early June, when Clinton was the keynote speaker at BookExpo America, the publishing industry’s annual national convention. He has since been interviewed by “60 Minutes” and Time magazine among others, and Monday night he was to be guest of honor at a book party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He also was interviewed by The British Broadcasting Corp., which planned to show its interview with Clinton on its “Panorama” TV show Tuesday night. The BBC said he discusses the “old demons” that surfaced and led to his affair with Lewinsky.

“It happened at a time when I was angry, I was under stress, I was afraid I was going to lose my fight with the Republican Congress,” BBC quoted Clinton as saying. “As I said, I was in this titanic fight for the future of the country, and an inevitable fight with my old demons. So I won the public fight and lost the private one.”

The BBC said Clinton “becomes visibly angry” at one point when BBC interviewer David Dimbleby questions the former president’s contrition over the Lewinsky affair.

Sixteen franchises of the Borders superstore chain will stay open past midnight. Barnes & Noble also will begin selling “My Life” at midnight, at one franchise each in New York and Washington.

Clinton’s political opponents already are taking on the former president. Citizens United, a conservative lobby group, purchased advertising time during Clinton’s Sunday night interview on “60 Minutes” and accused him of failing to fight terrorism. Rush Limbaugh has said the book should be called “My Lie.”

But the promotional tour itself reflects Clinton’s well-documented fondness for pleasing all sides. Over the next month, he will visit independent booksellers such as Politics & Prose, the superstore chains Borders and Barnes & Noble, black-owned stores such as Harlem’s Hue-Man Bookstore, and price clubs such as Costco.

Books by presidents have rarely been labeled works of literature; Ulysses S. Grant’s memoir is the exception. Clinton seemed a good bet to break pattern. He is among the best-read of recent presidents and has noted proudly that he wrote the book himself, in longhand. His editor, Robert Gottlieb, has worked with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, historian Robert Caro and other leading writers.

Critics, however, have so far deemed “My Life” about as interesting as Herbert Hoover. The New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani, in a front-page review Sunday, panned Clinton’s 957-page book as “sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull.” Newsweek called it “hardly an edge-of-your-seat experience.”


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