RARA-AVIS: Vern E. Smith

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 02 Jun 2000

I understand how it is possible that Vern E. Smith has had 25 years go by without attempting to followup his impressive debut novel THE JONES MEN. According to the introduction to the Old School Books reprint, Smith had a young family to support and a demanding career with Newsweek. One reason I can understand this is that it is very similar to my experience (although I hope not to match the 25 year hiatus). Some writers are dedicated and driven enough to overcome all obstacles and others are not. In the introduction it was said that not withstanding the good reviews, the Edgar nomination and the movie option by Warner on the novel, Smith was not very happy about the whole experience. No details given.

Curiously enough I bought THE JONES MEN because I recognized Smith's picture but could not place him. After his Detroit years (where he gained the background for the novel), Smith was moved to Newsweek's Atlanta bureau. I spent much of the 70s as a reporter there and his face was familiar because we were often in the cluster of reporters at various political events and other major stories. I remember him as having an air of dignity about him and if we ever exchanged more than a few words, I don't recall it. Reporters for the national news weeklies often did seem to be off to one side from the scrambling crowd facing daily deadlines. I am certain if his novel had received any publicity or even just a review in the local paper I would have read the book then and sought him out.

I do hope that he followed through on the plans for the second novel and we will soon have an opportunity to read it.

Richard Moore

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