Archive for September, 2021

How Long is Short?

I’m not talking about skirt length, or even of a prison term, but of STORIES.

I sat through a program about short stories recently and came away with one interesting factoid (yes, only one, therefore I won’t name the sponsor).

The factoid: The Great Gatsby, often called the Great American Novel, is barely longer than a long short story.

Sorry about the outpouring of adjectives, but I checked it out and, sure enough, The Great Gatsby is fewer than 48,000 words. Today that would be called a novella, shorter by 30,000 + words than a typical mystery novel, even a cozy.

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (born September 24, 1896, a distant cousin of THE OTHER Francis Scott Key) tended to write short, as did several other well-known writers.

Here are four more short novels: Fight Club, Slaughterhouse Five, Fahrenheit 451, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I can hardly wait till my next contract negotiation.

In Person

Next week at this time, I’ll be preparing to venture OUT to an in-person book event. Wish me luck. I hope I remember to wear my street clothes.


September 11, 2001, coming this week, the 20th anniversary of a day every adult remembers.

One impressive new version of the World Trade Center stands in Manhattan. I’ve written about it and included an image in my September newsletter. There are also other formal memorials and tributes to those who found themselves drawn into what we simply refer to as 9/11.

I’ve chosen a less formal, but poignant image as we reflect on the heroes and those we lost.

Part of an informal memorial to the victims of United Flight 93, which crashed in a nearby field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers fought with hijackers who had taken the plane and directed it to Washington during the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.
Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.


Labor — the beginning

Revere Beach Boulevard in the ’50s
My cousin Richard and his mother, my Aunt Annie, across the street from the Cyclone Roller Coaster.

Labor Day and who doesn’t recall her first job?

Mine was twirling cotton candy at a concession stand on Revere Beach Boulevard. I was 12 years old.

The area under the cyclone in the top photo is where Fred and Lil hired me to twirl cotton candy. Each of the following summers I was promoted to a different part of the concession. The soft drink section. The pepper steak grill. The fried clams!

Don’t look for the coaster now — it’s history, along with the rest of the amusements on the 2-mile boardwalk.

Deal of the week: Several decades later, I wrote a short short story set on the Cyclone. You can read it free if you have Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t and you pay $.99 to read it, let me know and I’ll “reimburse” you with one of my paperback mysteries!