Introducing "Monsieur Big-Hat"

Most of my posts about Melville Jacoby focus squarely on nonfiction. He was a journalist. I am a journalist. Though Mel worked for a time as a broadcaster and was handy with a camera, he was first and foremost a writer. So it shouldn't be terribly surprising that he dabbled in fiction a bit. Some of that fiction is pretty good, though it was never published. Take "Monsieur Big-Hat." That's the short story Mel wrote in 1940 while he was working in Chongqing, China's wartime capital (then known as Chungking). Written at a time when the Japanese were pounding Chongqing with bomb upon bomb, "Monsieur Big-Hat" describes an American correspondent's encounter with a French diplomat who was just about to leave China to return to Paris after years away. The two meet during an air raid in a shelter dug deep beneath Chongqing. Just as dark news reports arrive from France, the diplomat — so eager to return to his wife and son — makes a fateful decision amid the rattled nerves and thunderous blasts of the raid. It's a poignant glimpse of life during wartime with descriptions of the attacks so vivid that they were clearly informed by Jacoby's own experience in the Chinese city.

Mel also took a number of compelling photos of the air raids on Chongqing. I took the story and put it together with some of these photos in a short eBook that's now available online (an MP3 audiobook is also available). I've given the book as a gift to everyone who contributed to One Last Assignment, but now anyone else who wants a copy can get one, too. It's available for just $2 in a variety of formats at my new store at lascheratlarge.com/store and on most of the other places online where one buys books. That's currently the only item on sale in my store, but I hope to add other projects soon.

However, if you're looking for something lovely as a Christmas gift, any shot from my entire photography portfolio can now be ordered as a print online. Click here to see those photos or place an order.