My Great American Novel

These are challenging times for writers. 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 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 oldes daughter was born, until the day my youngest graduated from college.
  • Exhibit B: Cleaning out the garage, I stumbled upon journals that I had filled with words years before they were 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 two dozen years ago. (Where, as in "Home Alone," the mere presence of a cell phone would have ruined the 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 a decade ago. It still has mighty literary pretensions. Note how (with a nod to Jerry Maguire) 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 out there 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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