September 24th, 2007


The Essay That Keeps On Giving

From the files of Whaaaaaa? comes this little story:

I received an email the other day from the screenwriter Brian Koppelman (Ocean's Thirteen, Rounders). I've always wanted to be contacted by a bigshot Hollywood screenwriter about my writing, but it turns out Brian didn't find me through my fiction. He found me because we went to the same summer camp.

Pause. Rewind. Back in 2005, I wrote an essay for Annabelle Magazine called "Old Soliders Never Die, They Just Run Summer Camps" about my experiences at Camp Tomahawk in the late '70s and early '80s. No other piece I've ever written, fiction or non-fiction, has generated as much response as this one. Not General Slocum's Gold, not "Go" (which netted a few emails from readers frustrated by the ending) or any of the other stories collected in Walk in Shadows, nothing. In the two and a half years since the essay appeared, I must have received a hundred email responses. Some agreed with me that Camp Tomahawk was hell on Earth, others thought I was a douchebag and Tomahawk was the greatest camp ever. Even the man in charge of the camp, "Red" Bogart, read it and emailed me shortly before he died.

Two and a half years, and I'm still being contacted by ex-campers. This time, it was Brian Koppelman. It turns out we were campers at the same time, but we didn't know each other. Much to my delight, he agreed with my assessment and called my piece hilarious. He revealed he's even working on a screenplay based on his time there.

I can't wait to see the movie!