NEW YORK — Howell Raines, the fly-fishing, zone-flooding former executive editor of The New York Times, is a true original. The same can’t be said about the title of his new memoir, “The One That Got Away,” about being pushed out of the Times in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal and rediscovering himself through angling. In fact, “The One That Got Away” has been used as the name of at least eight books in the past decade, including a historical bodice-ripper, an urban love story, a Gulf War memoir and an entry in the popular pre-teen series “Sweet Valley High.”
This story first appeared in the May 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Three of the following excerpts are from Raines’ book; the others are from books that share only its title. See if you can match the words with the author.
A. Howell Raines (former New York Times editor, literary memoirist and sportsman)
B. C. Kelly Robinson, sensitive African-American male novelist
C. Chris Ryan, British Gulf War veteran
D. Cathy Maxwell, historical romance writer
E. Francine Pascal, “Sweet Valley High” creator
1) “What I wish I could make you feel…is the velocity that lived in my tiny legs that day, that released itself into wings on my heels and into a miraculous burgeoning burn of pure acceleration. I ran so fast that nothing could touch me, not fear, not failure, nor any kind of doom. I ran encased in a bubble of pure triumph, a halo of impenetrable good luck.”
2) “The life force flowed from him and into her. For one shining, vibrant moment, she was complete. Whole. Sated. Perfect.
“Dane’s body collapsed on hers. His weight felt good.
“‘Dear God,’ he whispered, ‘dear sweet heavenly God.'”
3) “[A] skinny, middle-aged man, wearing nothing but a loincloth, came out of his mud hut carrying a small leather bag. Having swept a patch of earth clear with one hand, he tipped six or eight bones onto it, and sat staring at them for fully half a minute, muttering to himself. Through the Botswanan who was with us, the message came back that we had nothing more to worry about.”
4) “As soon as she stepped onto Velma’s porch, Tony spun around and pulled her close. After risking a lengthy French kiss, something he knew Velma forbade on her property, he began pulling her toward his used faded Mercedes sedan … Serena waited until they were safely encased inside the Mercedes before leaning over for another kiss. When a flashback of the previous night’s sexual marathon hit her, she snaked a hand into his lap.”
5) “I remembered her as she was during the Olympian summer and, later, on the river in Maine, the way she laughed, the way she kissed … Her carriage was that of a dancer or a fine-blooded colt, and I never tired of looking at that slender figure, elegant as a knife blade. My close friends were crazy about her, and of course, they realized long before I did the proper name for my condition.”
6) “He swallowed hard and looked down at his soggy sneakers. ‘What I’m trying to say is…’ He paused. He hated doing this in front of all of them, but he knew if he didn’t do it right now, he might never get another chance. ‘Ever since I met you, I knew I had to be with you.'”
7) “Two men spent the whole day fishing, paddling up and down in a boat, dropping off gill nets, going round, and pulling in fish. On each pass they let themselves drift maybe a hundred metres downstream. The speed at which the boat picked up confirmed that the current was strong, and I was glad I hadn’t tried to swim across.”
8) “Her need for him was frightening in its intensity. She curved her body to meet his, her legs cradling his hips. His hand caressed her hip and down her thigh, encouraging her knees to bend and bring him closer. Not that she needed encouragement.”
9) “The next morning, I stopped in at the Starbucks at Eighth Avenue and Forty-Third Street, where the service is inefficient but surly. I waited patiently for my venti iced decaf non-fat latte.”
(Answers: 1-A, 2-D, 3-C, 4-B, 5-A, 6-E, 7-C, 8-D, 9-A)