Mitchell, Bob 1944-

views updated

Mitchell, Bob 1944-

(Robert L. Mitchell)

PERSONAL: Born 1944; married; wife’s name Susan (an artist); children: three. Education: Williams College, B.A. (magna cum laude); Columbia University, M.A.; Harvard University, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Sports, travel, animals, music, art, food and wine, acoustic guitar.

ADDRESSES: Home—Santa Barbara, CA. Agent—Joelle Delbourgo, Joelle Delbourgo Associates, Inc., 516 Bloomfield Ave., Ste. 5, Montclair, NJ 07042. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and educator. Taught French for eleven years at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and Ohio State University, Columbus OH; taught for a year in France. Worked in advertising in New York, NY, as a copywriter and then creative director, beginning 1981; special consultant for commercial film writing and production, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1994.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow; Fulbright fellow.

WRITINGS

The Heart Has Its Reasons: Reflections on Sports and Life, Diamond Communications (South Bend, IN), 1995.

The Tao of Sports, Frog (Berkeley, CA), 1997.

How My Mother Accidentally Tossed Out My Entire Baseball-Card Collection: And Other Sports Stories, Frog (Berkeley, CA), 1999.

Match Made in Heaven (novel), Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of four books about nineteenth- and twentieth-century French poetry. Match Made in Heaven has been printed in several foreign languages, including Spanish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Korean, and Turkish.

ADAPTATIONS: Match Made in Heaven has been made into an audiobook, Brilliance Audio, 2006.

SIDELIGHTS: After writing three nonfiction books about his passion for sports, Bob Mitchell turned to the novel with Match Made in Heaven. The story revolves around Harvard Professor Elliott Goodman, who suffers a massive heart attack and pleads for his life while being worked on in a hospital operating room. To Goodman’s surprise, God appears on the ceiling and wants to know why Goodman should be saved. The professor cannot give a good reason, but God decides to give him a chance anyway. He challenges Goodman to a game of golf, and promises to spare Goodman if he wins. However, Goodman will not play God but will have to compete against a different historical character on each hole, from Leonardo da Vinci and W.C. Fields to John Lennon and Socrates. As the game progresses, Goodman has discussions about life with each of his opponents. “The novel is all about the life lessons Elliott learns from these amazing characters and from the amazing game of golf,” wrote Gina Holmes on the Novel Journey Blog site. “At a deeper level, it’s really about why a human life is worth saving and what is so precious about human existence here on earth.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the conversations between Goodman and his opponents are “chockful of notable quotables,” adding that “this is a kind of greatest-hits of the world’s wisdom traditions—each aphorism served up entertainingly.” John Mort, writing in Booklist, noted that the author “strikes an agreeable tone and is often amusing.”

Mitchell once told CA:“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved to write. I can’t explain it, and I do think it’s in the genetic helical matter. Not that my upbringing and education didn’t have a huge impact one me. Certainly reading and loving the classics was very inspiring to me, writers like Flaubert, Proust, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens, Joyce, and so on. Plus a number of poets, including Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Valéry, Whitman, Yeats, Eliot, Auden, Thomas, and Stevens. But the bottom line, as Rilke so brilliantly posits in ‘Letters to a Young Poet,’ was that deep inside I always asked, ‘Must I write?’ And the answer was always a resounding ‘Yes!’

“Aside from admiring these classical writers, I try not to be influenced too much by other writers. The reason is that I am not overly fond of ‘genre’ novels, which comprise a huge percentage of popular fiction these days. I guess it’s part of my personality to not be a follower, and to do things that are far from the madding crowd, so to speak. When I write, I like to choose a topic that is utterly distinctive and that has never been written about before in the history of the world. And to write about it in an utterly distinctive style and voice. Such, for example, is the subject matter and writing manner of the two novels I’ve written so far, Match Made in Heaven and The Secrets of Solomon Stein[not yet published].

“For me, I don’t write at all ‘to have an effect.’ That is, to affect potential readers in one way or another. I write for me primarily: I express what I need to in the way I need to, and I let the chips fall. Of course, my books inherently contain elements (in the writing) of humor, drama, and introspection, so naturally, if readers end up laughing, being moved, and thinking, that is always nice. But I would say that, as pleasant as it is to hear from readers that these ‘effects’ were realized, they are more a byproduct of the writing than its actual motivating force.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 2006, John Mort, review of Match Made in Heaven, p. 28.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of Match Made in Heaven, p. 318.

Santa Barbara Independent, May 18, 2006, Matt Kett-mann, “Discussing Life and Golf with the Author of Match Made in Heaven.”

ONLINE

Bob Mitchell Home Page, http://www.bobmitchellbooks.com (November 25, 2006).

Novel Journey Blog site, http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/ (June 12, 2006), Gina Holmes, “Author Interview—Bob Mitchell.”

Refreshment in Refuge Blog site, http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com/ (November 25, 2006), Gina Burgess, interview with author.

About this article

Mitchell, Bob 1944-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article