Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Double Dose of Roberts

I was driving to my second job today.

Location: 610 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago.

Hours of work: 10am to 3pm.

I turn the corner and the whole street is occupied with tents. The Printers Row Lit Fest was going on. Someone told me it was going on all weekend. I wasn't aware, but I took some time, 15 minutes before I needed to be at The Standing Room Only (don't worry, they have chairs) Restaurant. It was great. They had every book known to man. C-SPAN was there with their trailers and cameras. Authors of various novels were at the stands, signing books. Some reading poetry.

Upon doing some research, I learned that many top dog authors would be there. But the tickets were sold out. And they were most likely there the day before. Just my luck. Among the names, like Elmore Leonard and Bill Ayers, was Neil Gaimen (choir of angels), and man am I burnt up that I just missed him. He was receiving an young adult award, most likely for his work The Graveyard Book (already on chapter 3) and he deserves it!

Just to give you a bit of back story to this, on 11/03/2007, the day after my birthday, I was at my friend's Barnes and Noble and right there, signing books was a man with gray hair and glasses. We had a bit of a discussion on mystery books then I purchased a copy of his book Three Strikes You're Dead : A Snap Malek Mystery. The man's name was Robert Goldsborough.

Robert Goldsbourough began his writing career right around the time he was well in to reading Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries, well over 70 books in the series. Then, one cold hard day, while he was working at the Chicago Tribune, he found that his hero Rex Stout was dead and that they were printing an obituary for him. Robert and his mother both became saddened by the fact that there would be no more Nero Wolfe Mysteries. Robert knew that there was at least one more good Nero Wolfe novel to be had. So, as a gift to his mother, he typed an original Nero Wolfe book entitled Murder In E Minor.

(Pictured alongside him is Luisa Scala Buehler, another mystery writer with six books to her credit. They refer to themselves as The Deadly Duo and have a blog here on blogger.

In the 1980's Robert received permission from the Stout Estate to publish his book. He wrote six more novels included in the series.

Robert, a lifelong Chicagoan, dreamed of a character of his own: Snap Malek, a Tribune reporter with stories set as early as 1938. These books include Three strikes You're dead, Shadow of the Bomb and A Death in Pilsen.

Now, here I am, just walking around, hands in pockets, looking this way and that when I see . . . Robert Goldsborough . . . Again! A year and a half later, no less!

I walk up to his tent, his back to me as he's setting up his books. I knew he probably wouldn't remember me.

"Excuse me? Are you Robert Goldsborough?"

He turns. "That's me. What can I do for you?"

"Well, you must've forgotten by now but I've met you before."

"Oh?" he asks, searching his memory.

"Yeah. In Oakbrook. You were in Barnes and Noble."

"Oh. Yeah! I remember being up that way."

"I tell you, I got about four chapters into Three Strikes, you're Dead. I really like the character of Snap Malek."

"You do, eh?" He says energetically. "He's got a new story."


He grabs a book from a rack and, low and behold, it is another Snap Malek mystery. A President in Peril, set in 1948. It is in the midst of the tense final days of the election between Harry S. Truman and Thomas E. Dewey. Meanwhile, good ole Snap is receiving warning messages from an organization called The New Reich, who threaten to kill Truman. Now Snap must find a way not only to stop the organization but to save the president as well.

With five minutes to spare, I buy a copy, he signs and he thanks me for getting one and remembering him. Copy firmly in hand, I point to him as I'm making a dash to the restaurant, "Keep writin' em, I'll keep readin' em!"

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why we call it 'The Present'." ~Eleanor Roosevelt


AmberInGlass said...

Hey Rob, I just found you through Rebecca Emrich's blog, I read one of your comments you had left her where you mentioned that you would like people to recommend blogs to you. If you'll forgive a little shameless self promotion I just started my own blog. I too am a writer and very passionate about it. I started my blog to start putting up some of my own works for public perusal. I'd like to invite you to come by and take a look it's Right now I've got a few random pieces of different works of mine posted. Mainly short stories and poetry/lyrics, but I'll be putting alot more up that has to deal with my novel soon. I'd love for you to come by and check it out. Thanks.

Rob said...

With an invite as detailed as that, how can I object?

Subscribing right now.