The Death and Life of Bobby Z is about impersonation. Written by Savages author Don Winslow, the novel follows Tim Kearney, a small-time criminal who, in the interest of saving himself from a prison death at the hands of gang members, agrees to impersonate legendary (and deceased) dope smugger Bobby Z so the DEA can trade him for one of their agents, who has been captured by a cartel. As can be expected when one decides to impersonate an infamous drug lord, Kearney finds himself in over his head, plopped in a desert compound with Z’s former employers, employees and lover. Adventure ensues.
I’m behind on my reviews lately because tomorrow will be the final day in my own eight-year impersonation of someone else. Not a drug kingpin, mind you, an impersonation at which I would fail miserably (do kingpins own cats?), but rather a convincing impression of someone who knows anything about journalism, financial news, digital strategy or management. In short, I will be concluding my tenure with Crain’s New York Business.
I call my stint at Crain’s an impersonation not because I drove the thing into the ground, or because I think I’ve done a bad job in any of the four roles I’ve held at the company since 2007. Rather, I have since Day One (which in this case was my sophomore year of college, when I joined Crain’s as an intern) been surrounded by high-caliber journalists who taught me more in the first six months than a communications major did in four years. Some lessons I learned sneakily—eavesdropping on senior staffers to figure out how one successfully rejects a PR pitch—while others were offered up freely. Sometimes I learned by doing things right, but just as often by doing them wrong, leaving some poor editor to, for example, sort through my pathetic early attempts at feature writing. Basically, I’m a rookie who managed to sneak in with the pros, and somehow never got caught.
Being one of the youngsters at Crain’s New York, I have watched many of my peers go through significant life changes—marriage, children, etc.—with the kind of grace that makes me think I could someday dare to consider “having it all.” I have also seen myself change over the years: from naive 19-year-old, afraid of cold-calling press contacts, to slightly less naive 27-year-old, with an apartment and a cat and some sort of 401(k) thing. I pay taxes now! I get credit reports! I can kind of sort of define a collateralized debt obligation! In short, I too have grown up.
I know this post isn’t really about Bobby Z, at all, but Don Winslow books are great and you should read them the end. The reality is that I would have never started a book blog had it not been for Crain’s: the confidence it gave me in my writing, in my Internet skillz, in my ability to read about complicated subjects and come away with some semblance of understanding. Crain’s has been a phenomenal place to work, let alone a phenomenal first company to work for, and only now, as I scoop years of office knickknacks into duffel bags to bring home, is it really hitting me that tomorrow marks the end of an era. A turning of the page, if you will.
So, where to? As of Monday (no rest for the wicked up in this bitch) I’ll be working for Reuters.com, as a homepage editor. What does a homepage editor do? Well, honestly kids, we shall see. All I know is it’s a great company, a great opportunity, and a chance to be right up next to the news again. In other words, if you follow me on Twitter, prepare to learn some shit about Syria.
Last but not least, there are two people at Crain’s who I have to thank for their support and guidance and ability to feign interest in my blog (I know I’m not dying or anything, but dues must be paid!) Crain’s retail reporter extraordinaire Adrianne and I have been comparing book notes for as long as I can remember. Without our conversations, and her requests for book suggestions, I don’t know that it would have dawned on me to start a blog in the first place. (Adrianne also continues to believe that I will someday write an irreverent bestselling memoir, and for that I can only say “Thanks for your vote of confidence, and faith in my ability to not procrastinate doing anything of merit in life. You da best!”)
And finally, Elisabeth, whose enthusiastic support of the blog idea pushed me to get it off the ground (and who was the deciding vote on the name Sorry Television). Who tolerated my near incessant updates on the layout, the traffic, the readers, the “OH MY GOD SOMEONE COMMENTED ON SOMETHING!”s. Who dutifully read books I’d reviewed—even if she might have otherwise had no interest in them—as though my opinion is worth anything at all. Elisabeth is one of those friends who doesn’t tolerate self-deprecation (unless it’s for the sake of humor) and who makes you want to be not only a better version of yourself, but a better person overall. In a world of cynics and naysayers (myself included), she’s an anomaly, and you should all be jealous that she’s my friend and not yours.
So, there it is! If you’ve made it this far, I truly appreciate your pretending to be this invested in my non-blogging life. And if you haven’t, that’s cool because it should go back to normal reviews from here on out. I am truly excited for this next chapter (book pun!) in my life, which should keep me satisfied until I get to star in my own reality show.
And now some stuff about Bobby Z:
TITLE: The Death and Life of Bobby Z
AUTHOR: Don Winslow
PAGES: 272 (in paperback)
ALSO WROTE: Savages, California Fire and Life
SORTA LIKE: Savages meets Face/Off
FIRST LINE: “Here’s how Tim Kearney gets to be the legendary Bobby Z.”