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Mc Grady co-edited the project with his Newsday colleague Harvey Aronson, and among the other collaborators were well-known writers including 1965 Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Goltz, 1970 Pulitzer Prize winner Robert W. The group wrote the book as a deliberately inconsistent hodge-podge, with each chapter written by a different author.
Some of the chapters had to be heavily edited, because they were originally too well written.
According to Stuart, he appropriated the cover photo (a kneeling nude woman with very long hair down her back, photographed from behind) from a Hungarian nudist magazine; the model and photographer later demanded and received payment.
Gillian and William Blake are the hosts of a popular New York City breakfast radio chat show, The Billy & Gilly Show, where they play the perfect couple.
The book fulfilled Mc Grady's cynical expectations, and sales soon reached 20,000 copies, whereupon the co-authors decided to go public, in August 1969.
Mike Mc Grady was convinced that popular American literary culture had become so base—with the best-seller lists dominated by the likes of Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann—that any book could succeed if enough sex was thrown in.
To test his theory, in 1966 Mc Grady recruited a team of Newsday colleagues (according to Andreas Schroder, nineteen men and five women) to collaborate on a sexually explicit novel with no literary or social value whatsoever.
The book was submitted for publication under the pseudonym "Penelope Ashe" (portrayed by Mc Grady's sister-in-law for photographs and meetings with publishers).
Naked Came the Stranger is a 1969 novel written as a literary hoax poking fun at the American literary culture of its time.
Though credited to "Penelope Ashe", it was in fact written by a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike Mc Grady.
Mc Grady's intention was to write a book that was both deliberately terrible and contained a lot of descriptions of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar.
The book fulfilled the authors' expectations and became a bestseller in 1969; they revealed the hoax later that year, further spurring the book's popularity.
When Gillian finds out that her husband is having an affair, she decides to cheat on him with a variety of men from their Long Island neighborhood.
Most of the book is taken up by vignettes describing Gilly's adventures with a variety of men, from a progressive rabbi to a mobster crooner.