Thursday, August 17, 2017

Notes For August 17th, 2017

This Day In Literary History

On August 17th, 1926, the famous French playwright and actor Jean Poiret was born. He was born Jean Poiré in Paris, France.

Poiret first became famous in 1951, when he starred in the radio series Malheir aux Barbus, created by Pierre Dac and Francis Blanche.

A year later, while working in a stage show at the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre, Poiret met legendary French actor Michel Serrault. They co-starred in a sketch called
Jerry Scott, Vedette International. They would later co-star in a production of Poiret's most famous play.

By 1961, Poiret had become a member of the French cinematic society Pathé and wrote and recorded La Vache à Mille Francs, a parody of the song La Valse à Mille Temps by Jacques Brel.

Twelve years later, in 1973, Poiret married actress Caroline Cellier. She bore him one child.
That same year, Jean Poiret wrote the play that made him world famous - a comedy called La Cages Aux Folles. (The Birdcage)

In the stage production, Poiret played the lead role of Renato Baldi, a middle-aged gay man who manages the Saint-Tropez nightclub where his partner, Albin Mougeotte, (Michel Serrault) performs in drag as Zaza Napoli.

Renato has a son, Laurent, from an early heterosexual relationship. He and Albin raised him.
When Laurent returns from college, he announces his wedding plans and brings his fiancée's arch conservative, homophobic parents home to meet his father.

He never told them that Dad was gay, and now he fears that they won't let him marry their daughter when they find out. So, Renato and Albin redecorate their garish apartment and try to pass themselves off as husband and wife, with Albin in drag as Laurent's mother!

La Cage Aux Folles became a huge hit. In 1978, a feature film adaptation was made. In the role of Renato, Jean Poiret was replaced by Italian actor Ugo Tognazzi, but Michel Serrault resumed his co-lead role as Albin.

For its U.S. release, the movie was retitled
Birds Of A Feather and dubbed into English by the original cast - a rarity for foreign films released in the United States.

The highly acclaimed feature film was followed by two mediocre sequels,
La Cage Aux Folles II (1980), and La Cage Aux Folles 3: The Wedding (1985).

The original La Cage Aux Folles would later be adapted as a Tony Award winning Broadway musical and remade as a film in 1996 - The Birdcage - which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in the lead roles.

In his amazing career, Jean Poiret acted in dozens of movies over a 40-year period. In 1992, he directed his first film - Le Zèbre (The Zebra).

Le Zèbre was an adaptation of a novel by Alexandre Jardin that starred Poiret's wife, Caroline Cellier. Unfortunately, three months before the film's premiere, Poiret died of a heart attack. He was 65 years old.

Quote Of The Day

“To achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegance.” - Jean Genet

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete 2003 live performance of La Cage Aux Folles. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Notes For August 16th, 2017

This Day In Literary History

On August 16th, 1920, the legendary American writer Charles Bukowski was born. He was born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Germany. His father was an American serviceman, his mother a German woman. They married a month before he was born.

In 1923, just before little Heinrich's third birthday, the economic collapse in Germany compelled his family to emigrate to America. They settled in Los Angeles, where his mother changed his name to Henry Charles Bukowski.

As a young boy, Charles Bukowski grew up with an abusive father who would beat him savagely for the smallest offense. Due to the Great Depression, the elder Bukowski was frequently unemployed, a source of great shame that fueled his psychotic rage.

Charles' mother, who was not only beaten by her husband but cheated on as well, did nothing to stop her husband's abuse of their son - or herself. So it continued.

When he was a young teenager, Charles' shy and introverted nature grew worse, thanks to a case of severe acne that left his face covered with boils. Around this time, his two greatest passions were awakened - his passion for literature and his passion for alcohol.

Bukowski preferred to be alone. He read avidly. He also began writing short stories. His best friend, William "Baldy" Mullinax, introduced him to booze. Of his first experience with intoxication, he wrote, "This [alcohol] is going to help me for a long time."

After high school, Bukowski enrolled in Los Angeles City College, where he studied art, journalism and literature. He dropped out two years later, deciding to move to New York City and become a writer.

In July of 1944, the nearly 24-year-old Bukowski, who had been living in Philadelphia, found himself arrested by FBI agents and charged with suspicion of draft evasion.

Held for over two weeks in Moyamensing Prison, he was then released and taken to be inducted into the military. He failed the psychological exam, was classified 4F, (unfit for military service) and let go.

That same year, Bukowski's first published short story, Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip, appeared in Story magazine. Soon, more of his stories appeared in other literary magazines.

Unfortunately, he racked up far more rejection slips than sales. Discouraged, he quit writing for nearly a decade. He would refer to this period of time as his "ten year drunk."

He took up the life of a drifter and moved from place to place, doing odd jobs and staying at cheap rooming houses. He drank and brawled from bar to bar. He loved to go to the track and play the ponies.

In the early 1950s, Bukowski took a job as a letter carrier for the Postal Service, which would last almost three years. By 1955, he found himself hospitalized, suffering from a severe, nearly fatal bleeding ulcer.

After he was released, while he recovered at home, he decided to give writing another try. He began writing poetry, and within his verse, he found the muse. He continued to write poetry prolifically, and throughout his career, he would author over 1,000 poems.

As he made his rounds drinking from bar to bar, Bukowski would read his poetry to his fellow patrons, dazzling both barflies and bartenders who couldn't believe that a disheveled, boisterous drunk could write such incredible verse.

He became the poet laureate of the lower class, "the Bard of Booze and Broads" who found sublimity on skid row. Soon, his poems began appearing in literary magazines. This time, his rejection slips were few and far between.

By 1960, Bukowski's first poetry collection, Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail, was published. At the time, he had taken another position with the Postal Service, working as a letter filing clerk. The job would last for nine years.

In 1962, he found out that Jane Cooney Baker, (a widowed alcoholic eleven years his senior) the first woman he ever loved - perhaps the greatest love of his life - had died. So, he immortalized her in a series of poems and short stories. He met poet Frances Smith, who became his live-in girlfriend. In 1964, they had a daughter, Marina.

Three years later, in 1967, Charles Bukowski began writing a column for Open City, an underground newspaper based in Los Angeles. Titled Notes of a Dirty Old Man, the column was so popular that it got picked up by the Los Angeles Free Press and the NOLA Express (an underground newspaper based on New Orleans) after Open City folded in 1969.

That year, publisher John Martin of the Black Sparrow Press, now known as Black Sparrow Books, impressed with his poetry collections, offered to provide the financial support for Bukowski to write full time, in exchange for which he would become the author's exclusive publisher.

A lifelong supporter of the independent small press, Bukowski accepted the offer, quit his job at the Postal Service,, and began work on his first novel. Post Office (1971), an autobiographical novel based on his later years, was the first to feature his alter ego, alcoholic writer Henry Chinaski.

Although Bukowski's publisher, John Martin, worried that he wouldn't be able to make the transition from poetry to prose, the novel proved to be a breakout work that made its author's name as a writer.

Bukowski would write more memorable novels, including Factotum (1975), which found Henry Chinaski drifting through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, circa 1944. His most famous novel, Ham on Rye (1982), told the story of Henry Chinaski's unhappy childhood and adolescence as he grows up to become a misanthropic antihero.

Some scholars believe the title is a parody of The Catcher in the Rye, the title of J.D. Salinger's classic novel. Others believe that Ham on Rye refers to some literary critics' negative appraisal of Bukowski, whom they derided as the literary equivalent of a ham actor. Thus, the title refers to a ham writer fueled by rye whiskey.

Bukowski earned extra money by performing live readings of his poetry and prose. His first was a poetry reading performed in 1962 on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles.

When he performed at coffee houses and clubs, he always engaged in banter with his audience, which could be quite combative at times, as he usually performed in various states of intoxication.

In 1970, Bukowski gave a reading at Bellevue Community College in Washington State, which was taped by two students using the college's primitive black and white video cameras. Eighteen years later, the recording, thought long lost, was found.

It would be released on video as Bukowski at Bellevue in 1995, and later on DVD. The rough, grainy, stark black and white video perfectly captured the writer in all his gritty glory.

A 1979 reading given by Bukowski in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, would be released on DVD in 2010 as There's Gonna be a God Damn Riot in Here!

Bukowski's last public reading was given in 1980 at the Sweetwater, a punk rock club in Redondo Beach, California. It would be released on audio CD as Hostage and on DVD as The Last Straw.

In 1987, Charles Bukowski wrote the screenplay for a feature film based on his Henry Chinaski novels. Directed by the great French filmmaker Barbet Schroeder, Barfly starred Mickey Rourke as writer and skid row alcoholic Henry Chinaski.

Chinaski spends his days writing poetry and prose and his nights drinking and brawling at the local bar. He loathes the bartender, Eddie (Frank Stallone), especially after he finds out that Eddie slept with his girlfriend, Wanda (Faye Dunaway).

When Henry's writings begin appearing in literary magazines, they catch the eye of publisher Tully Sorenson (Alice Krige) who seeks Henry out, hoping to become his exclusive publisher.

She pays him a $500 advance and takes him to her home, where they have an affair. He rejoices in his literary success, but ultimately grows disenchanted with Tully's high society lifestyle.

Henry returns to his sleazy neighborhood, his blue collar bar, his bar buddies, and his ex-girlfriend, Wanda. Tully won't give him up without a fight, and actually gets into a fight with Wanda.

The film ends with Tully recognizing that Henry needs to be who he really is and wishing him luck. In the last scene, Henry, who has earned Eddie's respect, fights the bartender in the parking lot one last time, to win Wanda from him once and for all.

Bukowski would base his 1989 novel Hollywood on his experiences making the movie Barfly. He was also the subject of several acclaimed documentaries, including The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1983), directed by Barbet Schroeder, and Bukowski: Born Into This (2003), directed by John Dullaghan.

Charles Bukowski died of leukemia in 1994 at the age of 73. He left behind an impressive body of work that included over 30 poetry collections, six novels, nearly a dozen short story collections including his classic Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983), and several works of nonfiction.

Quote Of The Day

"My beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead Christmas trees of the world." - Charles Bukowski

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a rare recording of Charles Bukowski performing a live reading at San Francisco's City Lights Poets Theater in 1973. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Notes For August 15th, 2017

This Day In Literary History

On August 15th, 1885, the famous American writer Edna Ferber was born in Kalamazoo, Wisconsin. When she was twelve years old, her family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin. She graduated from high school there, then briefly attended Lawrence University.

After leaving university, Edna began a career in journalism, working as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal. In 1911, her first novel, Dawn O'Hara, was published.

Edna's novels featured strong female protagonists. One of her most popular characters, who appeared in several novels, was Emma McChesney, an intelligent, stylish divorced single mother who becomes a hugely successful businesswoman.

She was quite a controversial character for the time - the early 1900s. Her author's novels also dealt with racial or sexual discrimination, which were very controversial issues back then.

In 1924, Edna Ferber published the novel that won her a Pulitzer Prize for Literature. So Big told the story of Selina Peake De Jong, a schoolteacher in farm country, and her son Dirk, nicknamed So Big.

While teaching school, Selina lives on the Pool family farm. She forms a bond with the family's young son, Roelf, who wants to be an artist, not a farmer. She encourages him to pursue his dream, and he runs off to France.

Meanwhile, Selina marries a Dutch farmer named Purvus, and they have a son, Dirk. After Purvus dies of illness, Selina takes over their farm and makes it successful to provide for Dirk's future.

Dirk grows up to become a talented architect, but finds that he's more interested in making money than in his artistic talent. So, he switches gears and becomes a stockbroker. He makes a lot of money.

Dirk's fiancee, a famous artist named Dallas O'Mara, tries in vain to convince him that there are more important things in life than money. Meanwhile, Roelf Pool, now a famous sculptor, returns to town and visits Selina, who had encouraged him to pursue his dream.

Dallas falls in love with Roelf, who, like her, values art more than money. When Dirk finds out, he decides not to stand in the way of Dallas' happiness. She and Roelf run off together, and a heartbroken Dirk is left alone in his luxury apartment to contemplate all that his pursuit of money has brought him.

So Big was adapted as a feature film in 1932 and again in 1953. The 1953 version featured a different ending, as the original ending, with Dirk allowing his fiancee to run off with another man, was considered immoral under the stifling Production Code.

In 1926, Edna Furber published another classic novel, Show Boat. The story takes place on a "show boat" - one of many floating live theaters that traveled the Mississippi River in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The novel opens in the Reconstruction era South, moves on to New York City in the Roaring Twenties, and comes full circle, returning to the mighty Mississippi River. Show Boat would be adapted as a popular Broadway musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.

Edna's 1941 novel Saratoga Trunk and her 1958 novel Giant would also be adapted as Broadway musicals and feature films. Other novels would be adapted as acclaimed feature films.

Giant (1952) was a controversial epic novel set around the oil boom of the 1920s. It told the story a Texas cattleman who marries a wise and fiercely independent society woman. It was controversial because it accurately depicted the racist persecution and exploitation of Mexicans by white Texans.

Edna's 1958 novel Ice Palace would be adapted as a feature film in 1960. The film adaptation of Edna's tale of the fish cannery business in postwar Alaska featured Japanese American actor George Takei in a small role several years before he became famous as Lieutenant Sulu on the classic 1966-69 American TV series Star Trek.

Throughout her remarkable literary career, Edna Ferber wrote over two dozen novels. She died in 1968 at the age of 82.

Quote Of The Day

"Life can't defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death." - Edna Ferber

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete reading of Edna Ferber's classic short story, The Woman Who Tried To Be Good. Enjoy!

Monday, August 14, 2017

IWW Members' Publishing Successes

Paul Pekin

Might as well brag. Have two short short stories coming out this fall. Members of the fiction list might remember my short-short, “Milk.” It will be in Forge. My short-short "The Lost Boy," also subbed on fiction, will be in Two Hawks Quarterly.

Forge actually pays, fifty dollars top. Two Hawks is also a quality competitive market. You can look both of these up on the Internet. I don't know when my stories will appear, but I will post links when they do. My thanks to folks on the fiction list for their helpful and encouraging crits.

Bob Sanchez

My review of The Castaway's War, appears in the Internet Review of Books today. It's a remarkable story. Please check out the review.

Theresa A. Cancro

Six of my haiku are up on the poetry site Leaves of Ink today (8/10/17).

Judith Kelly Quaempts

My poem, "Sixty-Six Years," has been accepted for an anthology to be published in The Poeming Pigeon in December this year. Pleased cuz its about my late parents and also because the late Alice Folkart who was a wonderful poet herself, advised me when I sent the first draft to her.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Notes For August 11th, 2017

This Day In Literary History

On August 11th, 1921, the legendary African-American writer Alex Haley was born in Ithaca, New York. The oldest of four children, his father was a professor of agriculture at Cornell University - a position he had to overcome formidable obstacles of racism to obtain.

When he was fifteen, Alex Haley enrolled at Alcorn State University, a college for black students in Mississippi. Two years later, he dropped out and returned home. Concerned by his lack of discipline and progress in life, his father encouraged him to join the military.

So, in 1939, a few months before his 18th birthday, Alex joined the Coast Guard. It would prove to be a 20-year enlistment. After the Pearl Harbor attack in December of 1941 brought the U.S. into World War II, Alex Haley saw action in the Pacific.

Actually, for sailors during the war, life consisted of sporadic bursts of action amidst long periods of downtime. Haley once quipped that the greatest enemy he and his shipmates ever battled was boredom, not the Japanese.

To alleviate his boredom, Haley taught himself to write short fiction. His writing skills caught the attention of his fellow sailors, who often paid him to write love letters to their girlfriends back home.

After the war ended, Haley petitioned the Coast Guard to transfer him to its journalism division. By the time he retired from active duty in 1959, he had become both a Chief Petty Officer and the first Chief Journalist in the Coast Guard - a position created exclusively for him.

After returning to civilian life, Alex Haley began his writing career, first as a journalist. In that capacity, he conducted the very first interview for Playboy magazine, which appeared in the September 1962 issue.

His subject was jazz legend Miles Davis. Throughout the 1960s, Haley conducted some of Playboy's most memorable interviews; among his subjects were Martin Luther King, Jr., Melvin Belli, (Jack Ruby's defense attorney) Jim Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Carson, and Muhammad Ali.

Haley's two most famous interviews were of controversial, radical figures on both sides of the civil rights issue: black militant civil rights activist Malcolm X and George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party.

When Rockwell spoke to Haley on the phone, he refused the interview until Haley assured him that he wasn't Jewish. When the two men met in person, Rockwell was shocked to find that Haley was black.

Nevertheless, he agreed to do the interview. While Haley remained calm and professional during the interview, a nervous Rockwell kept a gun on the table within reach.

In February of 1965, six months after he'd been interviewed by Alex Haley, Malcolm X was assassinated. The two men had first met in 1960, when Haley had written an article on the Nation of Islam for Reader's Digest.

Over a period of nearly two years, Haley had conducted some 50 interviews with Malcolm X. Some of the material was published as a memoir in the July 1965 issue of Playboy. Later that year, Haley reworked all of the material and published it in book form as The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Alex Haley continued his career as a journalist and became a senior editor for Reader's Digest. Later, he began work on his first novel - a 700+ page historical epic based on the lives of his own ancestors.

Published in 1976, Roots: The Saga of an American Family became a classic work of literature. The novel opens in 1767, with a young African man named Kunta Kinte being kidnapped from his home in Gambia by slave traders.

Kinte is brought to America and sold to a plantation owner, Master Lord Calvert, who renames him Toby. The novel provides a heartbreaking and gut wrenching expose of the horrors of slavery and shows how it shaped the lives of generations of African-Americans - and continues to do so.

Roots won Alex Haley a Pulitzer Prize. It would be adapted as a highly acclaimed TV miniseries in 1977 that would prove controversial, as it was the first network TV program to show uncensored nudity and graphic violence.

The network censors allowed these elements because they were included in the name of historical accuracy - not for exploitation or titillation. The novel would cause controversy as well.

In 1978, novelist and folklorist Harold Courlander sued Alex Haley for plagiarism. He claimed that a 100-word segment that appeared three times in Roots had been lifted verbatim from his novel, The African (1967).

As the case went to trial, Haley denied plagiarizing Courlander's novel, but he soon settled out-of-court with Courlander for $650,000 and issued an apology, stating that the plagiarism was not intentional.

He claimed that someone had given him the text without crediting it as an excerpt from Courlander's novel. The plagiarism case would be used as ammunition by conservative critics who had claimed that the novel was historically inaccurate.

Undeterred by controversy, Haley later began work on his second novel, Queen: The Story of an American Family. Queen was based on the life of Haley's grandmother - the illegitimate daughter of a plantation owner and one of his slaves.

The novel chronicled the plight of such children, who, rejected by their fathers who refused to recognize them, were doomed to lives of slavery and suffering. Before he could finish his novel, Alex Haley died of a heart attack in 1992 at the age of 70.

His novel was completed by writer David Stevens, based on Haley's 700-page outline and boxes of research notes. It was published in 1993. That same year, the novel would be adapted as a TV minseries called Alex Haley's Queen, featuring Halle Berry in the title role.

Quote Of The Day

"I look at my books the way parents look at their children. The fact that one becomes more successful than the others doesn't make me love the less successful ones any less." - Alex Haley

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a rare recording of Alex Haley speaking at UCLA in 1968. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Notes For August 10th, 2017

This Day In Literary History

On August 10th, 1637, an Englishman named Edward King drowned at sea. His tragic death would inspire his college friend, the legendary English poet and polemicist John Milton, to compose a poem of elegy in his memory.

The poem, Lycidas, published three months after King's death, would prove to be one of the earliest and most famous poems in the elegiac tradition.

Some three centuries later, Milton's poem would inspire a legendary American novelist. It gave him the title of his first novel and influenced his writing.

The novelist was Thomas Wolfe, and the title of his classic first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, comes from the following passage in Milton's Lycidas:

. . . Ay me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding Seas
Wash far away, where ere thy bones are hurld,
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
Or whether thou to our moist vows deny'd,
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
Where the great vision of the guarded Mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;
Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.

The angel in Lycidas was St. Michael. The angel in Thomas Wolfe's novel was based on a statue his father had bought for his tombstone shop:

No one knew how fond he was of the angel. Publicly he called it his White Elephant. He cursed it and said he had been a fool to order it. For six years it had stood on the porch, weathering, in all the wind and the rain. It was now brown and fly-specked.

But it came from Carrara in Italy, and it held a stone lily delicately in one hand. The other hand was lifted in benediction, it was poised clumsily upon the ball of one phthisic foot, and its stupid white face wore the look of some soft stone idiocy.

The real angel statue was placed on the grave of a minister's wife in Asheville - Wolfe's North Carolina hometown. In the novel, the angel statue is bought by the town madam and placed on the grave of a young prostitute.

Many people in Asheville were appalled and infuriated by Look Homeward, Angel, and not just because the novel's content was a shocker for readers in 1929 - the year it was published.

Wolfe's characters were thinly veiled portraits of his friends, neighbors, and other townspeople. A review of the novel in a local newspaper declared that "Wolfe's First Is Novel of Revolt: Former Asheville Writer Turns in Fury upon North Carolina and the South."

Wolfe's sister Mabel recalled how the people of Asheville reacted: "They were denouncing him from the roofs and the corners and the housetops." In a letter to Mabel, Wolfe complained:

Apparently you can rob banks, be a crooked lawyer, swill corn whiskey, commit adultery with your neighbor's wife - and be considered a fine, lovable, misunderstood fellow; but if you try to make something true and beautiful you are "viciously insane" and your "big overgrown body" ought to be dragged through the streets by a lynching mob.

Finishing the letter, Thomas Wolfe summed up his fate this way: "Now I feel as if I have been exiled... It is like death... If then, I am dead to people who once knew me and cared for me, there is nothing more to say or do - I must go on into a new world and a new life, with love and sorrow for what I have lost."

Quote Of The Day

"This is the artist then; life's hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty's miser, glory's slave." - Thomas Wolfe

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete reading of John Milton's classic poem, Lycidas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Notes For August 9th, 2017

This Day In Literary History

On August 9th, 1949, the legendary American mystery writer Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City. When he was nine years old, he began writing short stories. That same year, his family moved across the country to Los Angeles.

Kellerman had always been an avid reader; his fascination with creative writing led him to write prolifically from grade school through his college years. By the time he was doing his graduate work, he had written eight unpublished novels.

In college, Jonathan Kellerman studied psychology and determined to become a child psychologist. He did his post-graduate work at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, then opened a private practice. He also serves as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine.

He published his first scientific paper at the age of 22 and did his post graduate work designing and implementing psychotherapy for children with cancer. His program was the first ever to provide comprehensive emotional care to pediatric cancer patients and their families.

In his private practice, Kellerman strongly denounced the use of behavior modifying drugs like Ritalin on schoolchildren back when those medications were considered breakthrough drugs. He also opposed the use of antidepressants and other mood enhancing drugs on kids.

When he married his wife Faye, she was a dental hygienist who had just gotten her DDS from dental school. She bore him four children. Their eldest child, Jesse Kellerman, is also a writer.

Faye Kellerman never did practice dentistry. Instead, she became a bestselling mystery writer like her husband. The Kellermans are the only married couple to hit the New York Times bestseller list at the same time for two separate novels.

Jonathan Kellerman would base his most famous character on himself. This hugely popular character would serve as the main character and narrator of over two dozen mystery novels.

Dr. Alex Delaware, a brilliant child psychologist, made his debut in Kellerman's classic first novel, When the Bough Breaks, which was published in 1985.

In his first outing, Dr. Delaware is a man who seemingly has it all; a successful practice, a loving girlfriend, a gorgeous home in Southern California, a luxury car, and a passion for playing and collecting guitars.

Then, he took on a tough, troubling case: treating a group of children who had been repeatedly molested at their day care center by the husband of the woman who ran the place. Delaware's treatment of his young patients proves successful.

Then one day, their molester breaks into Delaware's office and commits suicide. Shattered by the case and burned out, Delaware decides to retire. Only in his thirties, he already has more than enough money to retire comfortably.

So, Delaware retires and takes up the life of a beach bum. His girlfriend Robin tries in vain to help him deal with his depression. Then, eccentric LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis shows up to ask for his help in solving a vicious double murder.

Tough, burly, and slovenly, Sturgis is also highly intelligent, relentlessly dedicated, and the first openly gay homicide detective to serve in the Los Angeles Police Department - a position complicated by the virulent homophobia that runs rampant in the department.

The detective's latest case has him stumped. A prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Morton Hander, has been found brutally murdered, along with his lover - a former patient. Sturgis' only lead lies with Melody Quinn, a psychologically troubled little girl who may have witnessed the murders.

Milo asks Alex Delaware to become a police consultant and try to get Melody to talk about what she might have seen. Reluctant at first, Delaware agrees to examine the girl. As he and Sturgis plunge into the case, Delaware is shocked when he discovers a link to the case that nearly destroyed him.

The trail of the bizarre case leads Delaware to some of the richest, most powerful families in America - and a horrific, murderous conspiracy to prostitute mentally and physically handicapped children to depraved psychopaths whose wealth and position places them above the law.

When the Bough Breaks won Jonathan Kellerman the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. So far, he has written over 30 Alex Delaware novels, with the doctor using his psychological expertise to help his best friend Detective Milo Sturgis solve bizarre and brutal crimes.

Kellerman's background as a psychologist gives his stories a strong sense of authenticity, despite the bizarre and horrific nature of the crimes Alex Delaware is tasked with helping to solve.

In Time Bomb (1990), a young woman opens fire on the grounds of an elementary school that two rival politicians are visiting because of some recent incidents of racist vandalism that occurred there. She is killed by the bodyguard of one of the politicians.

Refusing to believe that his daughter would hurt children, the girl's father asks Alex Delaware to conduct a psychological autopsy. The doctor concludes that the shooter wasn't targeting the children - she wanted to kill one of the politicians.

The intended victim is a known right wing extremist. Delaware and Detective Sturgis soon uncover a murderous neo-Nazi conspiracy to acquire political power and use it to create a Fourth Reich in America.

In Survival of the Fittest (1997), Dr. Delaware is asked to help solve the mysterious murder of a diplomat's daughter. The mildly retarded teenage girl was murdered in a deliberately gentle way to insure that she wouldn't suffer.

Soon, other children with disabilities are murdered in a similar way. Dr. Delaware's investigation leads him to Meta, a group of people with very high IQ's, a very strong belief in eugenics, and a psychopathic serial killer among their members.

In The Murder Book (2002), Dr. Delaware receives a mysterious package in the mail, sent by an anonymous person. It's a photo album labeled The Murder Book. It contains an elaborately assembled collection of what appear to be gruesome crime scene photos of murder victims.

Delaware turns The Murder Book over to Detective Sturgis, who is shocked when he recognizes one of the victims - a young woman who had been tortured, murdered, and dumped near the freeway.

That was the very first homicide case Sturgis ever worked - a crime he was unable to solve. Soon, Dr. Delaware finds himself confronting evil beyond even his psychologist's understanding of the human mind.

In addition to his Alex Delaware novels, Jonathan Kellerman has written other novels, (including two in collaboration with his wife, Faye Kellerman) children's books, and nonfiction books on subjects such as child psychology and vintage guitars.

His most recent Alex Delaware novel, Heartbreak Hotel, was published on February 14th. In it, Alex meets the most unusual patient he's ever encountered - Thalia Mars, a charming, witty, and very wealthy woman nearing her 100th birthday.

Thalia doesn't want therapy from the child psychologist - she wants answers to some troubling questions. Questions about the effects of guilt, criminal behavior patterns, and other aspects of abnormal psychology.

Alex agrees to meet with Thalia at the luxury hotel where she lives, only to find her dead in her bedroom. The EMT on the scene suspects homicide by asphyxiation. Alex and Milo Sturgis have another murder to investigate.

As the body count continues, Alex uncovers Thalia's surprising past as a Depression era gangster's moll, scheming developers, and a twisted psychopath determined to claim what he believes is his rightful inheritance...

Quote Of The Day

"That's what's so great about my job. I get paid to do what got me in trouble in grade school - space out and play with my imaginary friends. In terms of Isaac, when the time's right." - Jonathan Kellerman

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Jonathan Kellerman and his wife Faye being interviewed before a live audience. Enjoy!

The Craft of Writing in the Blogosphere


News from the World of Writing