TIME AND PLACE: No one writing fiction today evokes setting better than our Jacqueline. "Among the Mad" is a magic carpet that will transport you to London in 1931. What authors do you like for effortlessly describing time and place?
R.I.P. RALPH: Ralph Kaplowitz, one of the original New York Knicks (1946), has died at age 89. Basketball was different then. Kaplowitz, a 6-2 guard, led the league in scoring, averaging 7 points a game, though he weighed less than one of Shaquille O'Neal's thighs. His teammates, Schectman, Hertzberg, Weber, and Gottlieb sound more like a C.P.A. firm than a starting five.
NOT AN OPTICAL ILLUSION: Not Photo-shopped either. A Stealth Bomber zoomed low (and almost silently) over the Rose Bowl on January 1. I know. I was there, as you can see in Section 17, Row 35, seat 1. I'm a Penn State alum, so the flyover was the high point of the game for me.
IT'S NOT JUST O.J. SIMPSON: What the running of the bulls is to Pamplona, what greed is to Wall Street, car chases are to L.A. On an average day, 16 people run from the police in Los Angeles County.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A BOOK REVIEWER: Reviewers at Publishers Weekly were paid $45 a review until June 2008 when the magazine reduced the fee to $25.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABE & EDGAR: Both Abraham Lincoln and Edgar Allan Poe recently celebrated their 200th birthdays. (Did they really celebrate?) There have been thousands (yes, thousands) of books written about Lincoln, and several about Poe. "On a Raven's Wing" (Harper Collins) is a new anthology edited by Stuart Kaminsky and published by the Mystery Writers of America. There are stories by Mary Higgins Clark and 19 others, including your humble scribbler. My piece, Development Hell," imagines Poe pitching "The Pit and the Pendulum" to a Hollywood studio exec. Here's the opening:
Marvin Beazle slipped off his tinted shades, tugged at his ponytail and studied the emaciated writer sitting across from him. Skin the texture of paraffin. Stained trousers, moth-eaten frock coat, and a silk cravat dangling like an tattered curtain.
“Love the Johnny Depp look,” Beazle said. “But why the long face, Eddie?”
AND SPEAKING OF SHORT STORIES: If you know of a better short story in 2008 than Laura Lippman's "Scratch a Woman" (contained in "Hardly Knew Her"), please tell me so I can read it.