Rosen, Richard (Dean) 1949-
ROSEN, Richard (Dean) 1949-
(R. D. Rosen)
PERSONAL: Born February 18, 1949, in Chicago, IL; son of Sol A. and Carolyn (Baskin) Rosen; married Diane McWhorter (a journalist); children: Lucy. Education: Attended Brown University, 1967-68; Harvard University, B.A., 1972. Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Home—166 East 96th St., Apt. 10-B, New York, NY 10128. Agent—(literary) Robert Lescher, 155 East 71st St., New York, NY 10021; (television) Arthur Kaminsky, Athletes & Artists, 421 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001.
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, 1970; 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.
(As R. D. Rosen) Me and My Friends, We No Longer Profess Any Graces: A Premature Memoir, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.
(As R. D. Rosen) Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1977.
Not Available in Any Store: The Complete Catalog of the Most Amazing Products Never Made!, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1990.
(As R. D. Rosen) Strike Three, You're Dead, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 1984.
Fadeaway, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.
Saturday Night Dead, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
World of Hurt, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 1994.
(As R. D. Rosen) Dead Ball, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.
(As R. D. Rosen) Mean Streak: A Harvey Blissberg Mystery, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.
(As R. D. Rosen) The Generic News (script), Public Broadcasting System, 1983.
(As R. D. Rosen) Workout (script), Public Broadcasting System, 1984.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including New York Times, New York, Sports Illustrated, New Republic, New Times, and Psychology Today.
SIDELIGHTS: Richard 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 series 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—in order 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 found 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 Fadeaway 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 Fade-away "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 series that Rosen worked for briefly in 1985. A Publisher's 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 he conceived of Harvey Blissberg 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 former baseball outfielder and motivational speaker Harvey Blissberg accepting a job as bodyguard to professional ball player Moss Cooley, a black man close to breaking Joe DiMaggio's hitting record. 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. "Dead Ball is a chilling look at our national pastime," wrote a reviewer on the Walker & Company Web site. "It is also a troubling look at our national disgrace of racism."
Reflecting on the source of his inspirations, Rosen once told CA: "Having experience in other professions is very valuable for a writer. You always want to be writing about something. You don't want to be writing about different versions of yourself or different versions of what the inside of your brain looks like. The things I find most fascinating about novels sometimes are what they have to say about what other people do for a living. . . . I think what people do is very interesting, so my experience in journalism, although it's clearly related to being a writer, gave me a larger frame of reference. I'm afflicted, and blessed, by curiosity about what people do."
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.
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.
Change, April, 1978.
Eagle (Providence, RI), October 21, 1984.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1984, p. 554.
Library Journal, September 1, 1986, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Fadeaway, p. 218.
New Republic, August 22, 1981; August 29, 1981.
Newsday, August 19, 1984.
New Yorker, November 24, 1986.
New York Times, June 24, 1988, John Gross, review of Saturday Night Dead, p. 17.
New York Times Book Review, October 28, 1984; 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, May 11, 1984, p. 263; 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.
Sports Illustrated, April 18, 1985.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL) July 3, 1988.
Washington Post Book World, January 20, 1985; November 16, 1986.
Wilson Library Bulletin, November, 1984.
Walker & Company Web site,http://www.walkerbooks.com/ (January 6, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Dead Ball.*