My Great American Novel

These are hard times for writers. Certain celebrities who are already wildly successful in other areas – and I’m looking at you, Steve Martin, and even you, Rob Lowe – have already written books that are well-crafted, thoughtful and entertaining. And don’t even get me started about the book I read by first-time novelist Karen Thompson Walker. It was simply wonderful.

There’s no way that ordinary mortals can compete with this stuff. And I am – if nothing else – an extraordinarily ordinary man.

But even in the face of this cold reality… I am also a writer. I can’t help it. I write all the time.

Oh, I write daily as part of my job, but that’s only part of the story.

  • Exhibit A: I kept a daily diary about my family life from the day my first daughter was born. She's 28 now (and, in full disclosure, I've lapsed in recent years as I've become more active on social media).
  • Exhibit B: Cleaning out the garage, I stumbled upon journals that I had filled with words years before she was born — and that I had forgotten about.
  • Exhibit C: Old college friends can tell you horror stories about my single-spaced, multi-page typewritten letters that I used to produce – and sometimes mail, sometimes not – in the dark time before everyone used computers.
  • Exhibit D: "My Life of Crime," a novel I wrote more than 20 years ago. (Where, as in "Home Alone," the lack of cell phones plays a crucial part in what passes for a plot.)

It's a love story set in New York and New Jersey. The initial version was a tad meandering – footnoted, no less, with stories within the footnotes… as if I were Nabokov instead of Van Book (his anagrammatical and exceedingly less talented evil twin).

I revised “My Life of Crime” for my younger daughter for her 18th birthday more than seven years ago. It still has mighty literary pretensions. Note how even the cover resembles the Bantam edition of “The Catcher in the Rye” – except in reverse and as if on a legal pad. But I have no illusions about the book’s sales potential. It's guaranteed never to have gone in or out of style; it’s just something I did for love.

If anyone reading this wants a copy – and I’m assuming that only a friend would venture onto this page and read this far  please email me at bvar@verizon.netI’ll send you a version in the format of your choice.

Also, on the last day of 2017, I posted here what I would consider a condensed version of the book as a short story, "A Triptych for Virginia."

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