Monday, November 28, 2016

Former BJ features writer Bill O’Connor has published his third novel, “The Era of Long Thoughts” ($21 for paperback version via
He went to his experience well for this one since it’s set in an Akron newspaper with a troubled reporter, although, Bill insists, “I’d like to stress that the novel is not autobiographical.”

Well, with one exception.

Quips Bill:

All the characters are creations, except for one minor one. BJ colleagues might guess who Guy Daynor is.”

The blurb about Bill’s novel:

“Matthew Fox is a veteran newspaper reporter. The year is 1990. He sees a trend in favor of softer reporting and he resists efforts to write such stories. His own life is in crisis. He is a loner, with no real friends. His only close contact is sexual and fleeting. Now, in his 50s, his own unhappiness leads him to consider a damning story about the origins of an obscure chapel at a mental hospital. The consequences of such a story would bring unhappiness to a gentle group of idealists.”

As for Bill in real life: He joined the BJ in the spring of 1979.

The blurb about author Bill:

“Bill O'Connor was born and raised in South Philadelphia. He's been a Franciscan friar, a college professor and a reporter with John S. Knight's flagship newspaper, The Akron Beacon Journal. He's also unloaded ketchup cases from a conveyor belt, been chained to a stamping press, delivered furniture and failed miserably as a door-to-door salesman. He is the father of four children. He and his wife Elsbeth live at the edge of a woods and sometimes drink wine in the Alps.”

Bill and Elsbeth throw some Gatsbyesque parties at their 1108 Ramling Way home in Bath Township, too. I know because I’ve been to some.

Bill married his Swiss miss in 2002. They both have four grown children from previous marriages.

Bill was at a momentous BJ reunion in Primo’s Deli in Akron in 2010. At the same table were BJ television critics whose Ol’ Blue Walls efforts spanned three decades: David Bianculli (1980-83), David’s successor, Mark Dawidziak, who slinked off to the PD for even greater success; and Rich Heldenfels, who replaced Mark and eventually dropped his insistence on keeping the off-putting R.D. byline.

Also at the lunch were the late Joan Rice, super nova food writer Jane Snow, former PD and BJ classical music critic Don Rosenberg and John Olesky, who was TV Editor for Bianculli, Dawidziak and Heldenfels and made them all better writers for it. Yeah, right.

Bianculli lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, which is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, where O'Connor once lived.

Bill did his undergraduate work at St. Francis College and got his Master's degree at Bowling Green University. He spent 10 years as an instructor of English and drama with Montana University.
His previous novels are “Bums and Hershey Bars,” which began as a master’s thesis at Bowling Green, published in 1965, and “The Legend of Horn Mountain,” an adventure story written for those in their early teen years, set in Montana where Bill lived for eight years. Bill’s email address is interesting.
I don’t think it’s a comment on his mental condition, but his clever way of slicing up BillO’Connor in the middle to get “loco.”
Whimsy does not escape Bill. Or my 84-year-old editor eyes.

After reading this article, Bill explained why he is “loco”:

“You're right about my email name - loco2732. But remember when we had to sign on at the paper with the section we worked followed by the beginning of our last name? Being in Lifestyle at that time, I signed on as loco so often that when I got email for the first time I used loco. By then I had forgotten what loco meant to people who weren't signing on as we did back then.

“Maybe it's appropriate, the loco thing for me. A lot of people think so, especially my wife.

"Thanks again. Reading your blog is like hearing about family.”

Family, indeed, is what we are, Bill, no matter how long ago we put out that fine newspaper together.
And thanks for explaining why working in
L ifestyle and being named
O'CO nnor made you loco. I'm caused a few people to go loco in my time, too.

No comments: