RARA-AVIS: Jones Men & Ed Lacy

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 28 May 2001

I read (and I think commented on here) THE JONES MEN by Vern Smith about a year ago. It is a very nice first novel with great power. It is a shame that Smith did not continue in fiction. If the second novel mentioned when the paperback reissue came out ever saw the light of day, I missed it. I realize I may too often here mention personal associations but I was a reporter in Atlanta with Smith and knew him by sight and perhaps had a bit of pre-news conference chitchat with him now and then. I say this only because I was writing then and very aware of other Atlanta writers and if THE JONES MEN made any splash in Atlanta where he lived at that time, I would have noticed it and sought him out. The point is that while it may have recieved good reviews, he may not have recieved the kind of strong signals that strongly encouraged him to continue.

News magazine reporters were an elite bunch and Smith was definitely on a fast journalistic track. With a family to support, I can understand how his career may have taken all of his energy and time.

The mention of Ed Lacy takes me back. He was a classic old-time liberal who made his name (and won an Edgar) writing about Afro-American lead characters.
   His real name was Len Zinsberg and as Bill Crider notes, he was very familiar with boxing. He often wrote about boxers or former boxers.

I am trying to remember my favorite Lacy novel. I think it was called THE MEN FROM THE BOYS, which is a good title. Lacy had a way with titles. Others include GO FOR THE BODY, PITY THE HONEST, ENTER WITHOUT DESIRE.

Lacy also wrote under the name Steve April and had many short stories under that name in the magazines of the 1950s and 60s.

Richard Moore

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