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We'll Always Have Cleveland


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We'll Always Have Cleveland


   
   


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When novelist and television producer Les Roberts arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for a short-term consulting job in 1986, he wasn't entirely prepared. It was January, and he'd brought no overcoat, no boots. That chilly Northeast Ohio surprise wasn't all he was unprepared for. He never dreamed that, just months later, he'd find himself so completely won over by the place that he'd give up the glitz of Hollywood and put down roots in this rustbelt city.

It took only a few weeks in Cleveland to convince Roberts that the city was a ripe setting for his next private-eye novel. Then, a chance meeting on an airplane led him to the inspiration for his new character: Milan Jacovich (pronounced My-lan Yock-o-vitch), a tough Slovenian-American sleuth with a master's degree and a taste for kielbasa sandwiches and cold Stroh's beer.

The combination proved very successful. Thirteen Milan Jacovich novels resulted, and with each book Roberts drew more heavily on real Cleveland places and people for the authentic local flavor of his stories. From the upscale Heights to the industrial Flats, from shiny new Jacobs Field to the aging ethnic neighborhoods, Roberts and Jacovich covered the town. They saw where the deals were made (Johnny's Bar, Little Italy), the good times were had (The Velvet Tango Room, Vuk's Tavern), and the bodies were found (all over the place!).

In this memoir, Roberts tells how he discovered the heart and soul of a city while fictionalizing it for a series of novels. He writes about his favorite locations and his favorite people (and at least one person who was not happy to find himself in a novel). It will appeal to fans of the series, fans of the city, and aspiring novelists who want to learn how one writer took a city and made it his own through fiction.

Reviews

“Other than being too short, it's a nearly perfect paean to a particular place and the people who made it that way, and continue to keep it so. It's both a guided tour of Cleveland, and the wonderful, even unique places within or without its boundaries, as well as a basic introduction to the author, who seldom meets a stranger . . . It's almost as though you were invited into a warm, charming home on a cold, snowy night--in Cleveland, where else?--and after you and the host are seated in front of a roaring fire, he begins to chat . . . You know it's true love as you listen to Les talk about his city here; he praises the people--their warmth and sincerity, but doesn't flinch from the warts to be found here, either . . . But, first and foremost, Les Roberts is a writer, and a damned good one. Let his words show you his town, and then go look out a window. You'll find it all out there, just like he said it was.” - coolcleveland.com

“Mystery readers, particularly of Cleveland and Clevelanders in general, should enjoy Roberts' exploration of the city. Aspiring writers should enjoy his techniques and his dedication as a new mystery is born . . . Generally, a warm, loving portrait of a city and the surrounding area-smoothly and sincerely written. Thank you, Les Roberts, for a positive look at cleveland.” - Ohioana Quarterly

“A marvelous book. The tone is captivating. Reading it is like having a private conversation with Les Roberts. He brings to life the many people and places native Clevelanders take for granted.” - WVIZ TV25

“Les is still an unabashed admirer of Cleveland, warts and all. But he sees something that perhaps most of us don't realize or want to admit: life has changed . . . This city of ours can certainly use a boost and maybe this book could be the start of something big, like Clevelanders getting to know their city all over again.” - Currents

“Besides Roberts' virile, no-nonsense prose, what saves the book from being entirely a puff piece are the sections that deal most candidly with his cancer scare from a few years ago. And he's not entirely a Pollyanna about the town. In a few pages he bemoans the decline of the Flats, the basket-case school system, the lack of new business and, conversely, the pimping out of Gund Arena to become “The Q” to attract what commerce Cleveland can still grab. Overall, though, the book is a love note to the city” - Free Times

“When Roberts writes of a tree-lines street he tells his readers what kind of trees they are. And if he wants to pretty it up, he'll tell you the colors of the leaves, too. In other words, he is a factual writer and he writes accurately and honestly about Cleveland and the other locations that find their way into his novels . . . I felt like I was having a first-hand experience--such is the gift of this author . . . As I turned the pages of this book, I once again appreciated the author's wit (he always makes me laugh out loud) and his smooth style of writing. I also began to understand that “We'll Always have Cleveland” is more than just one book. It's three books: it is a memoir, a personally guided tour of Northeast Ohio and it is a book about writing.” - Medina County Gazette

“Roberts is careful to point out that “We'll Always Have Cleveland” is a memoir, not an autobiography, but the general reader can be forgiven for not getting the distinction. The book is filled with enough autobiographical detail that the major outlines of his life stand out clearly. The emphasis, of course, is on Cleveland and all the wonderful things about it; the parks, the unique restaurants and commercial culture, the die-hard, destiny-defying sports mania, the cultural richness, and most of all, the people . . . In addition to the rewarding Cleveland friendships, Roberts' book is enriched by the intimate glimpses he offers of the writer's life, the writing process itself, and some of his more meaningful personal experiences, including a bout with cancer and finding the love of his life . . . All in all, though, after 15 years of life on the North coast, Roberts is still madly in love with Cleveland and northeast Ohio--both the current reality and the promise of what they could be--and he loves the life he's had here. “We'll Always Have Cleveland” is his charming invitation for all of us to feel the same way.” - Mount Vernon News

“Full of anecdotes and local color . . . [this] love letter to an adopted city might lure visitors to the North Coast.” - Akron Beacon Journal

“Reads like a travelogue of the people, places and events [Roberts] has encountered.” - Cleveland Jewish News

“As it is with most memoirs, [Roberts] tells the reader only what he wants them to know, omitting a lot of the "good stuff" or "bad stuff," and that, of course, is his privilege. At the same time, reading between the lines provides an even clearer view of the man, showing that there is more to him than meets the page . . . Those living in Cleveland who haunt the same places as the fictional [detective Milan] Jacovich, or visit the same restaurants and inns that impress Roberts, will enjoy reading about them. Those who have not been there might want to make it their business to do so.” - Hinckley Record

“Roberts pays tribute to the people and places he holds dear. It can well serve as a Greater Cleveland map to the best restaurants, nightclubs and small shops, as well as places some locals have yet to visit.” - Northern Ohio Live

About Les Roberts

Les Roberts is the author of 14 mystery novels featuring Cleveland detective Milan Jacovich, as well as 9 other books of fiction. The past president of both the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writer's League, he came to mystery writing after a 24-year career in Hollywood. He was the first producer and head writer of the Hollywood Squares and wrote for the Andy Griffith Show, the Jackie Gleason Show, and the Man from U.N.C.L.E., among others. He has been a professional actor, a singer, a jazz musician, and a teacher. In 2003 he received the Sherwood Anderson Literary Award. A native of Chicago, he now lives in Northeast Ohio.

 

 

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