Inspired by my terrifying years spent on the playground of Warren Point School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, I salvaged many of the childhood sequences from Playground for inclusion in Minyan, connecting each kid from the former to one of the adults in the latter. Playground featured the same protagonist, Norbert Wilner, and many of the same characters — as does virtually every piece of fiction I’ve ever written.

On the very day that I reluctantly began an MFA program at Columbia University, I received an enthusiastic letter from a publisher in Florida, telling me they loved the excerpt of Playground I had sent, and wanted to see the whole thing. I immediately withdrew from Columbia after attending only one class, figuring I could skip the middleman and jump right into publishing my book. I spent about a year or more finishing the manuscript, shipped it off to Florida… and naturally, whoever it was that had expressed interest had long since departed the company, and whoever was there in his place sent me a form letter rejection. I wound up with no MFA and no publisher, and for awhile, it seemed, no life.

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    “…Natural causes are when a person is much too old to have any fun being alive any more, yet stubbornly refuses to contract a terminal illness.”