Mayer, Robert 1939–
MAYER, Robert 1939–
Born February 24, 1939, in New York, NY; son of Max (in sales) and Anne (a bookkeeper) Mayer; married Carol Mothner, October 25, 1970 (divorced, 1982); married LaDonna Cocilovo, February 24, 1989; stepchildren: Amara Cocilovo. Education: City College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1959; Columbia University, M.A., 1960.
Home and Office—Santa Fe, NM. Agent—Philip Spitzer, 50 Talmade Farm Ln., East Hampton, NY 11937.
Washington Post, Washington, DC, copy editor, 1960; New York Newsday, New York, NY, reporter, 1961-67, author of column "Robert Mayer in New York," 1967-71; Santa Fe Reporter, Santa Fe, NM, member of board of directors, 1974-1988, managing editor, 1988-90; writer, 1990—. Consultant to Ford Foundation.
National Headliner Award, best columnist, 1968; Mike Berger Awards, best writing about New York City, Columbia University, 1969, 1971; Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, best fact crime writing, Mystery Writers of America, 1987, for The Dreams of Ada.
Superfolks, Dial (New York, NY), 1977, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
The Execution, Viking (New York, NY), 1979.
Midge & Decker, A&W Publishers (New York, NY), 1982.
Sweet Salt, Mariposa (Santa Fe, NM), 1984.
The Grace of Shortstops, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984.
The Search, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1986.
I, JFK, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
The Dreams of Ada: A True Story of Murder, Obsession, and a Small Town, Viking (New York, NY), 1987, Doubleday/Broadway (New York, NY), 2006.
Baseball and Men's Lives: The True Confessions of a Skinny-Marink, Delta (New York, NY), 1994, revised edition published as Notes of a Baseball Dreamer: A Memoir, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Work represented in anthologies, including Writers of the Purple Sage, Viking (New York, NY), 1984. Contributor to periodicals, including New York, Rocky Mountain, Travel and Leisure, New Mexico, Newsday, and Vanity Fair.
Robert Mayer is an award-winning journalist who has also earned significant recognition as a novelist. His first book, Superfolks, is the story of a paunchy, middle-aged superhero who reluctantly returns to action in an attempt to thwart a world conspiracy—apparently aimed at him. Many characters in the novel bear celebrity names: A cab driver, for instance, is named after New York City activist Bella Abzug, and a bellhop is named after former president Gerald Ford. Spectator reviewer Mary Hope described Superfolks as "an exuberant romp, with some splendid, outrageously scaffolded jokes."
In The Execution Mayer largely forsakes humor to produce a disturbing examination of the death penalty. The novel's protagonist is a former college basketball prospect who is traveling across America and spends a night in a Utah state park. While asleep there he is robbed by a deranged florist who uses the hero's knife to disfigure and kill a woman. The innocent hero is soon charged, convicted, and sentenced to death.
Mayer's novel Midge & Decker is a warmhearted comedy about two down-and-out people—diminutive Midge and ex-convict Decker—who meet, mate, and find themselves expecting a child. Uncertain whether to marry Decker or abort the child, Midge decides to tie her decision to the outcome of a horse race. Christopher Schemering, writing in the Washington Post Book World, deemed Midge & Decker "pure, undiluted magic."
Another novel, The Grace of Shortstops, concerns a New York City family in the 1940s. The father of the family is a rabbi who runs guns into Israel; the mother is having an affair with her brother-in-law, a police officer. The only child in the family is Peewee, an eight-year-old preoccupied with the Brooklyn Dodgers' prospects for winning the National League pennant. Peewee becomes a hero of sorts when he arranges the rescue of the police officer's daughter from her abductor, a deranged woman. Madison Bell, writing in the New York Times Book Review, observed that The Grace of Shortstops is "disorganized," but he also wrote that the novel's various story lines are "well told." Published in the same year was the novel Sweet Salt, which describes the coming of age of a Navajo girl.
In The Search, Mayer fashioned a suspense novel about a former 1960s activist and a photojournalist who team against a scientist suspected of planning to peddle important weapons to the Soviets. Complicating the plot is the fact that the activist is wanted by the FBI while the photojournalist is an occasional employee of the CIA.
Mayer's novel I, JFK is structured as if it were former president John F. Kennedy's memoirs as fashioned by him after his death. In his ironic autobiography, Kennedy resolves many of his life's intriguing issues, including both his assassination and his various extramarital affairs. In addition, the book depicts Kennedy bantering with other deceased public figures, including brother Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and J. Edgar Hoover.
In the realm of nonfiction, Mayer produced The Dreams of Ada: A True Story of Murder, Obsession, and a Small Town, which is about the disappearance and suspected murder of a newlywed clerk in small town Oklahoma in 1984.
Mayer once told CA: "A book editor I don't know once told a friend of mine, when my name came up: 'He's the guy who never writes the same book twice.' In the super-commercial world of contemporary publishing, this was meant as a put-down. When the time comes, however, I think it will serve nicely as an epitaph: 'He never wrote the same book twice.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Mayer, Robert, Baseball and Men's Lives: The True Confessions of a Skinny-Marink, Delta (New York, NY), 1994, revised edition published as Notes of a Baseball Dreamer: A Memoir, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Albuquerque Journal, April 4, 2003, Tom Collins, review of Notes of a Baseball Dreamer.
Detroit News, January 5, 1986, p. 2F.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1994, review of Baseball and Men's Lives, p. 49.
Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1989.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 16, 1989, p. 8.
Multicultural Review, July, 1992, review of The Grace of Shortstops, p. 34.
New York Times Book Review, October 7, 1984, Madison Bell, review of Ghe Grace of Shortstops, p. 3.
Publishers Weekly, February 14, 1994, review of Baseball and Men's Lives, p. 86; February 17, 2003, review of Notes of a Baseball Dreamer, p. 65.
Rocky Mountain News, April 4, 2003, Laurence Washington, review of Notes of a Baseball Dreamer.
Spectator, July 29, 1978, Mary Hope, review of Super-folks, p. 24.
Washington Post Book World, March 13, 1977, p. E5; March 7, 1982, Christopher Schemering, review of Midge & Decker, p. 6.