Empty Ever After
By Reed Farrel Coleman
Paperback, 272 pages
List Price: $14.95
[ prologUe ]
[ the moUrner's prayer ]
We walked through the cemetery, Mr. Roth's arm looped through mine. The cane in his left hand tapped out a mournful meter on the ice-slicked gravel paths that wound their way through endless rows of gravestones. The crunch and scrape of our footfalls were swallowed up and forgotten as easily as the heartbeats and breaths of all the dead, ever. The swirling wind demanded we move along, biting hard at our skin, blowing yesterday's fallen snow in our faces.
"Bernstein!" Mr. Roth defied the wind, pointing with his cane at a nearby hunk of polished granite. "You know what it means in English, Bernstein?"
"No. I know stein means stone."
"Amber, like the resin with the insects in it?"
"Amber, yes. Bernstein, like burned stone. German, such an ugly language," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "But at least the words
sound like what they mean."
We walked on.
"Alotta dead Jews in this place, Mr. Moe."
"I think that's the point."
"When I die, I don't want this … this nonsense."
"Why tell me, Mr. Roth?"
"And who else should I tell, my dead wife? Wait, we're almost at Hannah's grave. I'll say Kaddish for her and then I'll tell her, but I don't think she'll listen. I wasn't a very good husband, so it's only right she shouldn't pay attention."
"What about your son?"
He stopped in his tracks, turning to face me, taking a firm hold on my arm. There were very few moments like this between Israel Roth and me. He'd suffered through the unimaginable, but he very rarely let the pain show through.
"I'm serious here, Moses." He almost never called me that. "This is not for me, to be cold in the ground. Kaddish and ashes, that's for me."
"Okay, Izzy, Kaddish and ashes."
"Good, good," he said. "Come already, we're almost there."
I stood away from the grave as Mr. Roth mumbled the prayer.
"Yis-ga-dal v'yis-ka-dash sh'may ra-bo, B'ol-mo dee-v'ro …"
"Amen," I said when he finished.
As was tradition, we both placed little stones atop Hannah Roth's tombstone. I never said Kaddish for my parents. Israel Roth had tried to rekindle whatever small embers of my Jewish soul still burned. Even so, they didn't burn brightly. I wondered if they'd burn at all when he was no longer there to stoke them.
"Would she forgive me, do you think?" he asked, again twining his arm back through mine.
"Would you forgive her?"
His face brightened. "See, there's the Jew in you, Mr. Moe. You answer my question with a question."
"I would forgive you, Izzy."
The brightness vanished as suddenly as it appeared. "You do not know my sins." That wasn't quite true, but I didn't press.
As we got close to my car, I slipped on the ice and landed square on my ass. Mr. Roth took great joy in my fall. His joy seemed to dissipate as we rode out of the cemetery and back to Brooklyn.
"Poland had miserable winters," he said, staring out at the filthy slush and snow-covered reeds along the Belt Parkway. "The camps were muddy always, then frozen. Rain and snow all the time. The ground was very slippery."
"I'd think that would be the last thing people in Auschwitz would worry about. Slippery ground, I mean."
"Really? Part of self-preservation was to busy myself with the little things. Did you ever wonder what became of the ashes?"
"The ashes of the dead, of the ones the Nazis gassed then burned.
They didn't all turn to smoke."
"I never thought about it."
He cupped his hands and spread them a few inches apart. "One body is only a little pile of ashes, but burn a few hundred thousand, a million, and you got piles and piles. Mountains. In the winter, the Germans made some of us spread the ashes on the paths so they shouldn't slip. Everyday I spread the ashes. At first, I thought, 'Whose ashes are these I am throwing like sawdust on the butchershop floor. Is this a handful of my mother, of the pale boy who stood beside me in the cattle car?' Then I stopped thinking about it. Thinking about the big things was a dangerous activity in such a place. Guilt too."
"But you survived."
"I survived, yes, by not thinking, by not feeling. But I've never stopped spreading the ashes."
We fell silent. Then, as I pulled off the exit for my house, Mr. Roth turned to me.
"Remember what I said in the cemetery, no burial for me."
"I know, Izzy, Kaddish and ashes. But where should they be spread?"
"You already know the answer to that," he said. "And we will never speak of these things again, Mr. Moe."
We never did, but never is a funny word. Time makes everyone's never a little different.
|Reed Farrel Coleman|
Left Coast Crime, Denver, CO, April 2008
|Born||(1956-03-29) March 29, 1956 (age 61)|
Brooklyn, New York
|Pen name||Tony Spinosa|
|Occupation||Poet, crime fiction writer|
|Notable works||Moe Prager series|
|Notable awards||Anthony (2006)|
|Years active||1991 to present|
Reed Farrel Coleman (born March 29, 1956) is an American writer of crime fiction and a poet.
Life and career
Reed Farrel Coleman, the youngest of three boys, was born and raised in the Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn. As a teenager, while walking to work, he heard a shot and saw a man lying in the street with a fatal stomach wound. That is when he realized, "People really do get hurt." He started writing in high school. He has worked at an ice cream store, in air freight at Kennedy Airport, as a car leasing agent, in baby food sales, cooking at a restaurant, as a cab driver, and delivering home heating oil. Coleman met his wife Rosanne at The New School in a writing class. They have two children, Kaitlin and Dylan. He now lives on Long Island.
Coleman did not consider making writing a career until taking a Brooklyn College detective fiction class. He is a multiple award-winning author, particularly his Moe Prager series. Also published are series featuring protagonists Gulliver Dowd, Dylan Klein, and Joe Serpe. The Dowd character was based on a retired police detective that he had met. The Joe Serpe novels were originally written under the pen name Tony Spinosa, but are now available as Coleman titles. He has written the stand-alone novels Tower with Ken Bruen, Bronx Reqiem with Det. (ret.) John Roe of the NYPD, and Gun Church, as well as several short stories, essays, and poems. Coleman has won Anthony, Audie, Barry, Macavity and Shamus Awards. His books and stories have additionally been nominated for Gumshoe and Edgar Awards. The books have been translated into seven languages.
He considers William Blake, Lawrence Block, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett to be early influences. Later he found significance in the writing of colleagues Peter Blauner, Ken Bruen, Jim Fusilli, S.J. Rozan, and Peter Spiegelman. He says, though, that his single greatest writing influence was his college poetry professor, David Lehman, who provided "permission to be a writer and...the first clues on self-editing".NPR has referred to him as "a hard-boiled poet", The Huffington Post says, "Coleman is the resident noir poet laureate of the United States" and The New York Times has commented, "If you dragged one (of his books) across the asphalt, you'd half-expect it to leave a chalk outline".
With a four-book contract, Coleman takes over writing Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series with the September 2014 publication of Blind Spot. He has also been signed to a two-book deal featuring retired Suffolk County (NY) cop turned PI Gus Murphy. He is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University, a former Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America, and a founding member of Mystery Writers of America University.
Dylan Klein series
Moe Prager series
- Walking the Perfect Square, Permanent Press, 2001. ISBN 1579620396
- Redemption Street, Viking, 2004. ISBN 0670032913
- The James Deans, Plume, 2005. ISBN 0452286506
- Soul Patch, Bleak House Books, 2007. ISBN 978-1932557411
- Empty Ever After, Bleak House Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1932557640
- Innocent Monster, Tyrus Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1935562207
- Hurt Machine, Tyrus Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1440532023
- Onion Street, Tyrus Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1440539459
- The Hollow Girl, F+W Media, Inc., 2014. ISBN 978-1440562020
Joe Serpe series
(writing as Tony Spinosa)
Gulliver Dowd series
Gus Murphy series
Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone
Essays and short stories
- "Portrait of the Killer As a Young Man"
Dublin Noir: The Celtic Tiger Vs. the Ugly American, ed. Ken Bruen, Akashic Books, 2006, pp. 61–66. ISBN 978-1-888451-92-4
- "Killing O'Malley" (as Tony Spinosa)
Hardboiled Brooklyn, ed. Coleman, Bleak House, 2006, pp. 108–115. ISBN 1-932557-17-2
- "Bat-Head Speed"
These Guns for Hire, ed. by J. A. Konrath, Bleak House, 2006, pp. 299–306. ISBN 1-932557-20-2
- "Another Role"
Indian Country Noir, eds. Sarah Cortez & Liz Martínez, Akashic Books, 2010, pp. 214–238. ISBN 978-1-936070-05-3
- "Mastermind" (fr. Long Island Noir, ed. K. Jones)
USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series, ed. Johnny Temple, Akashic Books, 2013, pp 170–179. ISBN 978-1-61775-184-4
- "The Terminal"
Kwik Krimes, ed. Otto Penzler, Thomas & Mercer, 2013, pp. 93–96. ISBN 978-1612183008
- "Go East, Young Man: Robert B. Parker, Jesse Stone, and Spenser"
In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero, ed. Otto Penzler, BenBella Books, 2012, pp. 193–210. ISBN 978-1-935618-57-7
- "Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell (1998)"
Books to Die For, eds. John Connolly & Declan Burke, Hodder & Stoughton, 2012, pp. 649–654. ISBN 978-1-444-75650-0
- The Lineup: Poems on Crime 2, ed. Gerald So with Bagley, Narvaez & Rainone, Poetic Justice Press, 2009.
- The Lineup: Poems on Crime 3, ed. Gerald So with Cortez, Narvaez & Rainone, Poetic Justice Press, 2010.
- The Lineup: Poems on Crime 4, ed. Gerald So with Coleman, Cortez, & Narvaez, Poetic Justice Press, 2011.
- 2006 Best Paperback Original - The James Deans - WINNER
- 2010 Best Paperback Original - Tower (w/Ken Bruen) - finalist
- 2012 Best Novel - Hurt Machine - finalist
- 2013 Original Work - Gun Church - WINNER
- 2006 Best Paperback Novel - The James Deans - WINNER
- 2008 Best Novel - Soul Patch - finalist
- 2012 Best Novel - Hurt Machine - finalist
- 2006 Best Novel - The James Deans - finalist
- 2006 Best Paperback Original - The James Deans - finalist
- 2008 Best Novel - Soul Patch - finalist
- 2014 Best Short Story - "The Terminal" in Kwik Krimes - finalist
- 2006 Best Mystery Novel - The James Deans - finalist
- 2010 Best Mystery Novel - Tower (w/Ken Bruen) - WINNER
- 2008 Best Mystery Novel - Soul Patch - finalist
- 2014 Best Mystery Short Story - "The Terminal" in Kwik Krimes - finalist
- 2006 Best PI Paperback Original - The James Deans - WINNER
- 2008 Best PI Hardcover - Soul Patch - WINNER
- 2009 Best PI Hardcover - Empty Ever After - WINNER
- ^ abWilson, Michael (May 15, 2006). "Reed Coleman Writes of Crime and Brooklyn". New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- ^ abc"Reed Farrel Coleman". Heirloom Bookstore. 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- ^"Anthony Award Nominees and Winners". Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- ^"Winners and Finalists". Audio Publishers Association. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- ^"Barry Awards". Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- ^"Macavity Awards". Mystery Readers International. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- ^"Shamus Award Winners". Private Eye Writers of America. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- ^Sobin, Roger M. (2007). The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians (2007 ed.). Poisoned Pen Press. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-59058-457-6.
- ^"Edgar Awards". Mystery Writers of America. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
- ^"Reed Farrel Coleman". The Book Report. 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- ^"Reed Farrel Coleman". Beaks and Geeks Podcast @3:40. June 10, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- ^Corrigan, Maureen (May 14, 2009). "A Wise Guy Mystery Writer Makes Good". NPR. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- ^Pinter, Jason (October 6, 2010). "Books Uncovered - Indie Press Edition!". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- ^Deahl, Rachel (April 7, 2014). "Coleman to Handle Jesse Stone for Putnam". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- ^"Reed Farrel Coleman". Beaks and Geeks Podcast @9:20. June 10, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2014.