by Katherine Rivard
After over 23 years of crafting his daily column in The Washington Post, each with exactly 770 words, oh the sweet relief Bob Levey must have felt to sit down and let out his first novel, Larry Felder, Candidate. For Washingtonians, Levey’s name will be familiar. Levey wrote for the Post for 36 years, and his voice was a well-known guest in the homes of readers each day.
Levey still looks back on his time with the Post with fondness: “The definition of terror is when you have to write a column every single day for the Post.” His columns were reader based, ideas formed from conversations, calls, and letters. People loved to read his piece each day, because they knew their voices were heard in his column. His articles were relatable and enjoyable to read, everything from figuring out how to get rid of hiccups to a complaint on Giant’s use of the grammatically improper “15 items or less” rather than “15 items or fewer,” a piece that ultimately led to the grocery chain fixing all such signs across the country.
Levey also used his writing — and following — to raise money for charity each year. His efforts to support Children’s Hospital and Send a Kid to Camp campaigns totaled over $17 million over his career. After 5,411 articles for his column in The Washington Post, each on deadline, Bob Levey finally retired in 2004. But leaving the Post has just been the end of one chapter of his career.
He continues to write, though on a less rigid schedule, and also provides consulting services, serves as a trustee at Montgomery College, and teaches opinion writing at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. Beyond writing, he’s boastful of his title as a National Champion Bridge Player, his two adult children, and his happy marriage to his wife, Jane.
Researching Levey isn’t difficult. The internet is filled with articles by him or about him. But for those unfamiliar with Bob’s writing, audio recordings, podcasts, or videos give a bright glimpse into his sharp mind and humor. He cracks jokes, slides in interesting tidbits, and tends to leave his interviewers lagging behind. This personality and humor comes through just as clearly in writing, both in his columns, and now in his novel.
Larry Felder, Candidate, which weighs in at a snappy 206 pages, is a fun read. It’s Levey’s love letter to journalism: a story he slowly pieced together in the shower for years and finally sat down to write. Politics, lust, and maybe even a bit of love, all mix together in the story of a middle-aged journalist deciding to run for Maryland’s Congressional Eighth District.
For Levey fans, readers will be pleased to know that there’s more on the way. Larry Felder, Candidate tackled journalism and his ties to the Post. Next up? A novel focused on the radio talk-show industry.
And while Levey has broken free of his former 770 word requirement and branched out into long-form writing, he’s quick to let you know that he will not be joining Twitter any time soon, scoffing that he did not spend years exhaustively reporting in order to cut down his thoughts into 280 characters, nor does he feel any need to constantly promote his brand. Instead, those interested in reading his work can order a copy of his novel online at BobLeveyPublishing.com.
For those looking to meet Levey in person, he will also be speaking about his book on March 14, 2019 at Chevy Chase House Luxury Senior Living at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.