Rayner, Jay 1966-

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RAYNER, Jay 1966-

PERSONAL: Born September 14, 1966, in London, England; married Pat Gordon Smith (an editor), 1992; children: Eddie. Education: Leeds University, B.A. (honors), 1987. Hobbies and other interests: Jazz piano, cooking.


ADDRESSES: Offıce—Observer, 119 Farringdon Rd., London EC1R 3ER, England. Agent—Pat Kavanagh, PFD, 34-43 Russell St., London WC1, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Journalist, writer. Observer, London, England, feature writer, reporter, restaurant critic.


AWARDS, HONORS: Named Young Journalist of the Year, British Press, 1992; Sony Radio Award, 1997, for Papertalk (BBC radio magazine); Restaurant Critic of the Year, Glenfiddich Food and Drink Awards, 2001.


WRITINGS:

The Marble Kiss (novel), Macmillan (London, England), 1994.

Day of Atonement (novel), Black Swan (London, England), 1998.

Star Dust Falling: The Story of the Plane That Vanished, Doubleday (London, England), 2002.

Eating Crow, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.


Contributor to periodicals, including GQ, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, New Statesman, and Granta.


SIDELIGHTS: Jay Rayner is a British journalist whose columns and articles have been syndicated in Europe, North America, and Australasia. Rayner is also the author of several books, including Day of Atonement, a novel featuring two Jewish protagonists. Sam Leith reviewed the book for the London Observer, noting that "every page . . . positively hisses with Yiddishisms: schmucks and schmaltz; shuls and shiksas; chutzpah and chicken soup. But as much as it's about Jewishness, it's also about food, as inspiration and consolation."


The protagonists are Mal and Solly, friends for more than three decades. Solly, the inventor, comes up with a machine that filters chicken stock for soup-making, and Mal develops a marketing plan to sell the gadgets. Their cottage industry goes global, and the business becomes very profitable, but Solly spends much of his share on a cocaine habit. The story is laced with humor, as when Solly joins Jewish Narcotics Anonymous, where the meetings culminate into shouting matches over whose drug problem has cost them the most. Leith concluded by saying that the story reflects themes of "forgiveness, friendship, and the stretch of sympathy." As a bonus, Rayner includes his great-aunt's recipe for chicken soup.

Star Dust Falling: The Story of the Plane That Vanished is Rayner's investigation into the disappearance of the Star Dust, a plane that was a fixture in the short-lived British American Airways, founded by aviation pioneer and Australian war hero Don Bennett. Bennett had written the book on air navigation and also founded the Pathfinder Unit of Bomber Command, which marked German targets during World War II.


In 1947, the Star Dust disappeared over the Andes Mountains en route to Santiago, Chile, and its wreckage was discovered in dense jungle in January, 2000, by climbers. Eleven passengers and crew were lost, and for years, there was speculation regarding the reason for its fate. Some thought the plane had been carrying gold, and it was reported in official documents that it might have been blown up by opponents of the Chilean government. Rayner contends that mismanagement was the underlying reason. Rayner writes that during the three years Bennett ran the airline, ten planes were lost, primarily because Bennett went too far in cutting expenses to make money. He ran his airline as a wing-and-a-prayer operation similar to what he was used to doing in the military, and employed former bomber pilots to fly the planes.


Frank Egerton wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Rayner's account of the rivalry that developed between expeditions led by the Argentinian army and air force "provides a fitting coda to this terrifying story of an airline which ended up, 'killing passengers in pursuit of profit.'"


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

New Statesman, July 24, 1998, Vicky Hutchings, review of Day of Atonement, p. 48.

Observer (London, England), May 17, 1998, Sam Leith, review of Day of Atonement, p. 17.

Times Literary Supplement, May 24, 2002, Frank Egerton, review of Star Dust Falling: The Story of the Plane That Vanished, p. 30.