Rosen, R.D. 1949-
Rosen, R.D. 1949-
(Richard Rosen, Richard Dean Rosen)
PERSONAL: Born February 18, 1949, in Chicago, IL; son of Sol A. and Carolyn Rosen; married Diane McWhorter (a journalist; divorced); married Ellen Lewis (a film casting director); children: two daughters. Education: Attended Brown University, 1967-68; Harvard University, B.A., 1972. Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Home—New York, NY. Agent—(literary) Paul Bresnick, Paul Bresnick Literary Agency, 115 W. 29th St., New York, NY 10001; (television) Arthur Kaminsky, Athletes & Artists, 421 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected] com.
CAREER: Writer. Boston Phoenix, Boston, MA, staff writer and arts editor, 1972-76; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, teacher of expository writing, 1975-76; Boston Magazine, Boston, staff writer and columnist, 1977-78; WGBH-TV, Boston, television news reporter and columnist, 1978-79; The Real Paper, Boston, editor-in-chief, 1979-80; WGBH-TV, Boston, television reporter, writer, actor-producer of national humor special, The Generic News, and director-producer of Enterprise documentary, 1982-84; National Broadcasting Company (NBC-TV), New York, NY, staff writer for Saturday Night Live comedy series, 1985; Home Box Office (HBO), Los Angeles, CA, cast member and writer for Not Necessarily the News, 1989-90. Associate, “I Have a Dream” Project, East Harlem, NY, 1986-87.
MEMBER: Writers Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Academy of American Poets prize, 1971; three Emmy Awards (New England region), 1984; Edgar Allan Poe Award for best first mystery novel, Mystery Writers of America, 1985, for Strike Three, You’re Dead.
Me and My Friends, We No Longer Profess Any Graces: A Premature Memoir, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.
Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1977.
The Generic News (script), Public Broadcasting System, 1983.
Workout (script), Public Broadcasting System, 1984.
(As Richard Rosen) Not Available in Any Store: The Complete Catalog of the Most Amazing Products Never Made!, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Jim Edgar, Harry Prichett, and Rob Battles) Bad Cat, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Harry Prichett and Rob Battles) Bad Dog, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Harry Prichett and Rob Battles) Bad Baby, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Harry Prichett and Rob Battles) Bad President, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 2006.
A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West, New Press (New York, NY), 2007, published as A Buffalo in the House: The Extraordinary Story of Charlie and His Family, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including New York Times, New York, Sports Illustrated, New Republic, New Times, and Psychology Today.
Strike Three, You’re Dead, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 1984.
(As Richard Rosen) Fadeaway, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.
(As Richard Rosen) Saturday Night Dead, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
(As Richard Rosen) World of Hurt, Walker & Company(New York, NY), 1994.
Dead Ball, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.
Mean Streak: A Harvey Blissberg Mystery, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: R.D. Rosen, whose first novel, Strike Three, You’re Dead, won the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award, is a veteran journalist, television writer, producer, and performer. Rosen’s career has included stints with WGBH-TV, Boston’s public broadcasting station, and the popular Saturday Night Live comedy program on NBC. He has also authored several books of nonfiction (in one of which he coined a new term, “psychobabble”), and even penned some poetry. Since 1984, he has become known for his mystery novels, featuring a ballplayer-turned-detective named Harvey Blissberg.
According to Marvin Lachman in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, Rosen “has used two subjects enormously popular with millions of people, sports and television, and combined them with vivid descriptions of how people talk and what they buy. The historians and sociologists of the future may turn to his books to find, in addition to the freshness and vigor of the mysteries, graphic descriptions of life in New England and New York during the 1980s.”
Strike Three, You’re Dead introduces Blissberg, an aging center fielder for the fictitious Providence Jewels. When his roommate is found murdered, Blissberg undertakes his own investigation, during which he himself becomes a target for murder. Rosen drew upon his extensive knowledge of major league baseball—and his own experiences as a player—to add realism to the novel. Bob Wiemer, writing in Newsday, remarked that the resulting work is “the literary equivalent of an in-the-park home run.” New York Times Book Review columnist Newgate Callendar called Strike Three, You’re Dead “an entertaining and well-written book,” adding, “Mr. Rosen can write. His dialogue is smart and sophisticated and his characters altogether three-dimensional. Clearly the author loves baseball, but he does not get sentimental about it. His approach is entirely professional.” The Mystery Writers of America named Strike Three, You’re Dead the best first mystery novel of the year in 1985.
In subsequent books, Blissberg has retired from baseball and is a full-time gumshoe. Fadeaway concerns the violent deaths of two professional basketball players, both found in Boston’s Logan Airport. Called in to track the murderer, Blissberg uncovers a sordid trail of drug abuse and recruiting violations. Washington Post Book World contributor Jean M. White noted that in Fade-away Rosen “writes with a light, sure touch. He has done his homework on the drug problem and recruiting pressures in basketball… The ending is a corker.” Both Strike Three, You’re Dead and Fadeaway “authentically report those sensational aspects [of sports], especially the drug and alcohol addictions of young millionaire athletes,” Lachman wrote. Likewise, concluded Lachman: “Rosen conveys the hypocrisy in college recruiting and the operation of lucrative professional franchises.”
Saturday Night Dead follows Blissberg onto the set of a late-night television comedy show where the reigning executive is suddenly killed. The fictitious show, Last Laughs, is based upon Saturday Night Live, a long-running television comedy program that Rosen worked for briefly in 1985. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote of the mystery: “The story’s skillful contrasts of edged satire and pathos make it irresistible, the third triumph for Blissberg and his creator.” While Lachman thought the solution of Saturday Night Dead is “overly melodramatic,” he nonetheless observed that the novel “has many strengths, notably its New York atmosphere and the behind-the-scenes look at television, especially its comedy programs.”
Rosen once told CA that he conceived of Harvey Bliss-berg by observing the age-old rule “that you should write about what you know.” He added: “When I sat down to plan my first mystery, I thought about what I knew, and I know a lot about baseball. In fact, when I think about the things I’ve written over the years, I realize that baseball has found its way into almost every form. I’ve written journalism and poetry about baseball. I’ve written pieces that were odes to Fenway Park. I’ve drawn baseball parks. Baseball was sewn into my character at an early age, so I wasn’t surprised when baseball popped into my head as the setting for my first novel.”
Rosen’s 2001 novel Dead Ball finds Blissberg accepting a job as bodyguard to professional ball player Moss Cooley, a black man close to breaking Joe DiMaggio’s record fifty-six-game hitting streak. When Cooley begins receiving hate mail and death threats (including a headless lawn jockey), Blissberg risks his own life to uncover the source of the threats. “The language crackles quick and sharp, full of hardboiled one-liners,” noted Booklist contributor GraceAnne A. DeCandido.
In A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West, Rosen recounts the story of a rather unusual pet. Santa Fe-based sculptor Veryl Goodnight and her husband, Roger Brooks, were the proud owners of a buffalo named Charlie, an animal they adopted when it was very young. Charlie came to their household initially as a model for a piece that Veryl was working on, but the couple eventually allowed the animal to stay at their home. Over the years Veryl and Roger faced a number of challenges while raising Charlie, including illness and accidents, and were assisted at different points in time by several veterinarians and an animal chiropractor, among others. Brian Spak, writing in the Wilson Quarterly, observed that Rosen’s effort “provides an engaging history of the species and alerts readers to their current precarious existence in the wild. But the central story of Charlie and his family isn’t captivating enough to sustain a book-length narrative.” A reviewer in Publishers Weekly offered a different assessment, however, writing: “The heart of the book is the bond forged over three years between Brooks and his beloved Charlie.”
Rosen later told CA: “Throughout my career, I have leavened more serious work with humor. I cowrote the humor books Bad Cat and Bad Dog, both New York Times bestsellers.
“Since childhood, I’ve been afflicted by both a strong philosophical temperament and a largely irrepressible comic bent. One of the great blessings of my career (an often confusing one for others) is that I have had opportunities to express both sides in my work, sometimes in the same book.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 39, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, September 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Dead Ball, p. 57.
Boston Magazine, August, 1984, Lee Grove, review of Strike Three, You’re Dead, pp. 114-115; May, 1987, Gail Banks, review of Fadeaway, pp. 128-129.
Library Journal, September 1, 1986, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Fadeaway, p. 218.
Newsday, August 19, 1984, Bob Wiemer, review of Strike Three, You’re Dead.
New York Times, June 24, 1988, John Gross, review of Saturday Night Dead, p. 17.
New York Times Book Review, October 28, 1984, New-gate Callendar, review of Strike Three, You’re Dead; October 9, 1994, Marilyn Stasio, review of World of Hurt, p. 34; February 15, 1987, Edna Stumpf, review of Fadeaway, p. 20.
Partisan Review, winter, 1988, David Lehman, review of Fadeaway, p. 149.
Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1986, Sybil Steinberg, review of Fadeaway, p. 174; April 22, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of Saturday Night Dead, pp. 66-67; October 3, 1994, review of World of Hurt, p. 55; March 12, 2007, review of A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West, p. 44.
Washington Post Book World, November 16, 1986, Jean M. White, review of Fadeaway.
Wilson Quarterly, autumn, 2007, Brian Spak, review of A Buffalo in the House, p. 105.
R.D. Rosen Home Page,http://abuffalointhehouse.com (January 10, 2007).
Walker & Company Web site,http://www.walkerbooks.com/ (January 10, 2007), “R.D. Rosen.”