Former president Barack Obama has been "working" on his third memoir for several years. In that time, his wife, nutrition extremist Michelle Obama, has authored and published her own internationally best-selling memoir, Becoming.
For whatever reason, Barack appears unable to tolerate his wife's literary success. He has expressed an almost pathological level of annoyance at Michelle's ability to complete a memoir in under two years. It was a sore subject in 2019, when the Atlantic published a (sort of) preview of Obama's forthcoming tome, but with few details beyond the fact that the former president was struggling to keep it under 1,000 pages.
Sources told the Atlantic that when Obama discussed his book, for which he and Michelle received a combined advance of $65 million, he tended to point out that he was writing it himself—unlike his wife, who used a ghostwriter.
According to a New York Times report published over the weekend, Obama is still aggressively sensitive about his lack of productivity in relation to Michelle. "She had a ghostwriter," the former president reportedly told a friend. "I am writing every word myself, and that's why it's taking longer."
The amount of time Obama has spent writing the book "remains among the touchiest of topics," the Times reports, and it is starting to irritate some of the people involved with the project. The book was at one point scheduled for release in mid-2019.
Obama, described as "a deliberate writer prone to procrastination—and lengthy digression," reportedly insisted on not being held to a specific deadline. He didn't complete his draft "of between 600 and 800 pages" until early 2020, which means the book is unlikely to be published before the upcoming presidential election but could hit stores in time for the Christmas season.
The entire work, however, could take years to finish. The Times notes that Obama is "seriously considering splitting the project into two volumes" in an effort to get something into print before the end of the year.
The Washington Free Beacon predicted in 2015 that Obama would become "the first U.S. president to compose a multi-volume opus about [his] time in office."