THE LONDON BOOK FESTIVAL

A few weeks ago the London Book Festival announced the names of its winners. “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, the novel, which is probably my most recognized work, received the First Honorable Mention.

As I stared at the screen of my computer my heart sank—I had in my mind contemplated nothing less than being named the Grand Prize Winner. A year earlier “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” had won the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival and set the standard for my expectations. To complicate matters, as a blogger I felt compelled to announce the results even though they were not to my liking and I knew in doing so it would also be incumbent on me to congratulate the winner (Stan Goldberg for “Lessons For The Living”), which didn’t bother me at all—I’m happy for Stan Goldberg, it’s an incredible feeling to win. So I began by posting the results to my status on facebook and to my surprise friends from all over the world began to congratulate me for my honorable mention. This gave me pause…I decided to delay writing a blog…I realized the matter required more thought than I had been able to give to it.

Now that time has passed, and with some help from my friends, I feel good about being honored with an honorable mention. My nature, of course, demands that my future work be so extraordinary that to be anything other than a Grand Prize Winner—impossible! And yes, I say this somewhat in jest. But also during these few weeks of reflection the whole journey, that is “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, meandered through my mind. Although the story of “Criminal” could be a literary work unto itself I’d like to take a few moments to share some of my thoughts with you about this road less traveled.

I should start by saying that the act of writing a novel is a sure sign of insanity. And there were plenty of people, including friends and family, who believed that I had indeed lost what little touch I did have with reality. 

I gave “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” my own name as part of its title because I have been dismayed over the years by people who claim to have done work attributed to others. I put my name and face on all of my work, and document the creative process, not as a matter of ego, but out of necessity to insure that there is not doubt as to the integrity of my work. 

“Stan Lerner’s Criminal” was an intensely personal endeavor that took four years to write. A not so well known fact is that I originally wrote “Criminal” in the voice of the first person. This version of “Criminal” took two years to write, at the conclusion of which I had written a book that was too disturbing for anyone to read. It took two more years to rewrite “Criminal” into the book that was published—utilizing the traditional voice of a novel.

Lerner Wordsmith Press (my company) published “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” not because I wanted to be the publisher, but rather I was reasonably sure that no other publisher would publish a book like “Criminal”. And by “a book like ‘Criminal’” I mean a serious literary work that did not pander to either social and or political correctness.

Subsequent to “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” receiving superlative reviews and winning the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival both Barnes & Noble and Borders refused to put it in their respective stores. And because of this, no studios or production companies have tried to acquire the rights…Yet “Criminal” goes on, selling almost every book ever printed. Garnering international acclaim. And providing to me a seemingly infinite number of people who say that it is the best book they have ever read. A conundrum I suppose… Continue reading

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – AND I

Foreword by Stan Lerner: “The Phantom Of The Opera – And I” is not only the first blog of the new year 2010 for this writer, but is by definition the first blog of the new decade for this writer as well. To write about a masterpiece such as The Phantom Of The Opera is both a great honor and immense responsibility — I hope dear readers that you find that this writer has done The Phantom Of The Opera justice.

The email went something like: Sorry to bother you Rob, but I’d like to write a piece called “Dinner And A Show” so I’ll need some dinner reservations and tickets….

For better or worse, in the world of business, which I hold in moderate disdain, I am fairly well known for calling anyone. More than a few billionaires have taken my call, some have become close friends. For the record, many men of wealth and power have not taken my call—far more have not, than have, in fact. And I admit to the fact that I am offended by those who decline, for I am of an overly sensitive nature—this too is well known.

So why email such a request to the President of The Venetian Hotel and Casino for what in the grand-scheme of his day is a seemingly trivial matter…To date the vast amount of the words I have penned with respect to Las Vegas are of the 25 to 50-year-old adolescent having a vicescapade, variety. And yes, I did just invent the word vicescapade. Did I choose this voice for my stories of Sin City? No. The voice chose me as there was no serious point of origination, no anchor—stories of drinking, drugs and zombie sex ensued. And make not a mistake, all to the delight of most readers. There is no shortage of appetite for my debauchery among my faithful bibliophiles. But before leaving Las Vegas, this time, I am compelled, by some phantom, to write a story with a soul. And even if this involved only the forwarding of my email to the person in charge of dealing with someone like me—there is a point of origin at the very heart of The Venetian for all else said. The Phantom Of The Writer’s demanded this and now our story may begin…

THE NIGHT BEFORE

The desert’s clear sky insured that it would be a cold, winter night, but regardless of climate I would be cold, for I am always cold, my soul that of a lover of God, yet my blood perpetually chilled by the sins of my flesh. It was my sixtieth, consecutive, twenty- hour day of writing—usually she comes by day forty-five, oh but she is an unfaithful lover. You see there is a phantom assigned to all of the world’s tasks, but it is the Phantom Of The Writers that I am a slave to, she is the siren of sirens as there is nothing more powerful than the craft she presides over. And there is no greater ego than found in those of who practice it…

“I’ve been waiting for you,” I said looking up from the computer—today’s quill.

She walked towards me. And like a virgin experiencing love for the first time my heart trembled, my breath became uneasy. The fragrant scent of her body filled my nostrils, intoxicating she is. Her white skin, close to translucent, as she is the nearest creation to Eve—in Eve’s original state of being, before Adam demanded opaqueness from mankind. Her eyes are smoldering coals. Her lips, perfectly formed, are red and filled with life. And the most beautiful face in the Universe is framed in black hair that shines with a life unto itself. A gentle wisp across my own face is enough to cause one to want to die—happy.

“Tales of Sin City, my love,” she said sitting down in the chair next to my own.

“I think every city should have its own voice, so I’ve given this city…”

“No need to explain, people are entitled to have some fun…” She smiled, which was a more than adequate conclusion to her thought, “How banal the use of the talent I’ve given you.” Continue reading