Monday, February 13, 2006


Benchley, 65, passed away today. I heard the news on the radio as I was coming home. He was a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, Presidential speechwriter, diver and wildlife conservationist. He was the grandson of humorist Robert Benchley and son of author Nathaniel Benchley. But he is best known as the author of Jaws.

I think I still have an old beat-up paperback copy of the 1974 novel somewhere in the garage. I bought it new.

The book is not great literature but it is a definite page-turner. It was a best seller then a young newbie director named Steven Spielberg got a hold of it and the first summer blockbuster happened. Between the novel and the movie, the word “jaws” morphed into becoming lunch while swimming in the ocean.

All that happened because a writer had an idea. He read an article about a fisherman catching a 1400-lb shark off Long Island and thought 'What would happen if one of those came around and wouldn't go away?'

None of Benchley’s other novels created the sensation that Jaws did but then how many writers can catch lightning in a bottle twice.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Benchley. And thank you for the story.

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