Decades before the ABC-TV series Scandal or House of Cards on Netflix, The Solomon Scandals existed in manuscript form—a quirky look at a darker side of D.C. that you can’t see on the screen right now or read about in the standard bestsellers.
Scandals isn’t about a comely fixer in love with Mr. President, or the inaugural-ball set, or nuclear crises, or the romps of 20-somethings on Capitol Hill.
Rather it’s about a small-time reporter, a bricklayer turned federal landlord, shenanigans at the General Services Administration, a rickety building on the banks of the Potomac next to a sewage plant, a blue-blooded gossip columnist caught up in spooky intrigue, a suicide party, and a Washington newsroom far less sanitized than the one in the All the President’s Men movie.
I completed the first draft of Scandals in the late 1970s, some 30 years before Twilight Times, a small press in Tennessee, bought my media novel in 2008 and published it early the next year.
Ted Scheinman, a Yale lit grad then working at the Washington City Paper, gave it a nice sendoff (“same dark zeal Hammett held for Frisco or Chandler had for Los Angeles”). Scandals was taught in a history class at George Washington University. A veteran Golden Globe judge started pushing for a Scandals film, a process very much still underway (who says movie studios are any swifter than publishers?).
A book-signing never happened—but everything in time, right? So on January 18 at 2 p.m., thanks to Beth Conway, owner of Re-reads books, Scandals is finally getting a party, almost exactly five years behind schedule. In honor of two minor characters in the book, a duo of gossip columnists who send bags of Virginia peanuts to their victims, Beth will serve nuts. I’ll do a short reading and answer questions. Decide for yourself the extent to which this is a roman a clef. To the right is an image of a newspaper story about an actual GSA scandal that happened years after I wrote the novel. GSA is like a bus stop. If you wait long enough, another scandal is sure to come along. Check out a fun YouTube, paid for courtesy of us taxpayers.
Directions to Re-reads, at 8742 Cooper Rd., south of Alexandria, Virginia, are here. Psst! You can even order a paperback of Scandals from Beth without going to the party (language alert: earthy city-room dialogue, as the FTC requires in anything labeled a “newspaper novel” or similar thereto). The price without shipping or the sales tax is $16.95, and, at least for now, that includes a bundled electronic version for your Kindle, iPad or almost any other gizmo.
Live in the D.C. area? Then come to the party. Beth’s store is on the cozy side, so call in advance to make sure there’s room—703-360-3041.