Nancy Rommelmann's work appears in the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Reason, and other publications.
"Nancy Rommelmann's startling stories are as compelling as they are unsettling. The worlds she creates are recognizable but also completely and wonderfully unfamiliar. She writes close to the body, and we are made to feel each uncanny detail." - Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia and Innocents and Others
“Congratulations to Nancy Rommelmann on this great narrative [Destination Gacy], which does more to explain the public's fascination with serial killers than anything I've read (hint: It's not about the serial killers)” - Robert Kolker, author of Lost Girls:
“Nancy is one of the finest writers and reporters I've worked with in over 10 years as an editor. She has the ideal manner for a reporter: she's a careful listener who knows when she is on to something, and who knows the best stories are often right at the corner of the eye. Her writing is ambitious, literary, never self-indulgent.” – Emily White, City Beat
A friend and I once played a game around the pool at her apartment in Los Feliz, a game that we called How the Celebrity Died Badly. It involved inventing gruesome deaths for the famous. I can’t recall even one scenario, only that we laughed over a game that was cruel and made us feel clever.
It was also cynical, putting as it did a door between the cynic and what’s going on. Sure you can see through a keyhole, but how much?
This seemed a lesson I needed to continually relearn...
“I think of it every day; I never go over that bridge without thinking about it,” says Pati Gallagher. Her residence is as close as any in Portland to the Sellwood Bridge, her patio a three good strides from the river, and where she was sitting when she heard the children hit the water...
Dear Michael –
I write to you this morning via someone you knew when you were a very little boy. I do not expect you remember her, though perhaps you remember more from that time than most three year-olds. Habit can create memory, and you had little of that, but so can trauma. Perhaps people told you about the fire and it’s become part of your history, though that would require people to pass along history, and the people you knew then I don’t imagine were around very long...
On the night she died, my mom drove to a motel to buy cocaine with two men.”
This is the first sentence of Leah Carroll’s memoir, “Down City.” The paragraph ends with one of the men telling her mother, whom he is choking with a towel, “Come on you rat. Give me the death rattle...”
Fox tells me she will be receiving the Hadada Award from the Paris Review on April 6, that she is “the eighth writer to get it,” others include Norman Mailer, Williams Styron, Philip Roth, John Berryman and Joan Didion. I ask her how this feels.
“It feels good,” she says, to be recognized. “But it’s only for a short time. Time swallows us all.”
I will be on a panel this Saturday, February 11 at 9am, with four other authors who write about violence: Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich ("The Fact of a Body"), Chinelo Okparanta ("Happiness, Like Water"), R.O. Kwon ("Heroics") and Robin Wasserman ("Girls on Fire"). Do stop in if you're at AWP 2017 or in DC.
My review of Douglas Preston's new book, in today's Wall Street Journal. I suspect other reviews may liken the true adventure to Indiana Jones. I did not, but there are man-size snakes spitting venom, a forest floor "carpeted with glistening cockroaches" and a parasitic disease that will eat through your face. Check it out!
Very nice work by Vogue.com on the standoff at Standing Rock. My daughter Tafv Sampson was there last week, bringing in supplies, shooting photos, and working with the Vogue crew. (If you don't blink you will see her in the video). Hoka hey, protectors.
Sometimes you don't know why you are offered an assignment, as was the case when someone from A & E contacted me to see whether I wanted to interview the filmmakers of the docuseries The Killing Season. Something told me, I did want to.
Published in the LA Weekly
Been to Hollywood in the past ten, twenty, forty years? Has it changed? Did you recently, as I did, marvel that in front of Grauman's Chinese every morning they roll a life-size, worse-for-the-wear plaster statue of Marilyn Monroe to the curb so that the tourists may gawk? Read on.
People are shocked Laura Albert recorded their conversations? Come on. Once they "knew" (flexible concept) there was no JT, the idea that Laura had and would act honorably should have gone right out the window...
On December 12, 1948, Nancy Schorn was born into privilege. Her father was the chief financial officer of the plumbing conglomerate American Standard. The family lived on a five-acre estate on Long Island’s North Shore, in Cold Spring Harbor, a town not unlike Daisy Buchanan‘s West Egg: Nancy was a member of three yacht and country clubs, and, like Daisy, was considered by one admirer to have been “the most beautiful person I had ever seen . . . "
Published in the LA Weekly
Published in Newsday
My review of American Heiress, in which author Jeffrey Toobin unpacks what we know and think we know about the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and argues an excellent case for Hearst being the ultimate opportunist — or a young woman so morally pliant she bent whichever way the wind blew.
We have watched two others die, they wizened like apples; I flew across the country for the first death, to be at Dave’s bedside. I watched him die. I had seen someone die before but not like this. There was so much beauty at the moment of death, near audible like a sip through a straw rushing into the night, the skin on his face going taut in an instant, and the color of beeswax.
Watching the RNC and DNC conventions, those mixing the Kool-Aid and those drinking it was clear. This made me think of the first sociopath I was obliged to try to make sense of. Here, a clip from Destination Gacy, the story of when I drove cross-country with Rick Gaez, a pen pal of John Wayne Gacy, to visit the serial killer shortly before his execution.
Published in the Wall Street Journal
One of the things I love best about reviewing books for the Wall Street Journal is seeing the titles my editors give the reviews. The piece that runs tomorrow, about a father-daughter adventure in the Arctic? "Go Play Outside."