‘Times’ Novelist Kills Off One Editor, Skewers Others

New York Times Building
"There's been a murder at the ! Er…!" Photo: Getty Images

When you write a roman à clef about your job, it's okay to leave some characters recognizable — so long as you don't have them murdered. But according to Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici, that's exactly what New York Times writer John Darnton did. The international reporter (who we're told taps away at the books on his downtime in the offices of the paper) has a new book coming out July 31 called, wait for it, Black and White and Dead All Over. According to Bercovici, many familiar Times faces make appearances:

Virtually every well-known Times journalist from the last few decades turns up somewhere in the murder mystery, along with a few recognizable figures from outside the paper, including Matt Drudge (a.k.a. Nat Dreck) and Rupert Murdoch (a.k.a. Lester Moloch). As a guessing game, it's almost too easy. Could the square-jawed, email-addicted foreign correspondent-turned-executive editor be anyone other than Bill Keller? Do you need to know that "Jimmy Pomegranate" is a rotund expense-account abuser to guess that he's a stand-in for R.W. "Johnny" Apple? And whoever could be the inspiration for the hyper-aggressive middle-aged female reporter known for big-footing others' stories and getting excessively intimate with the powerful men she covers?


The book starts out with the murder of former standards editor Allan M. Siegal, who is called Theodore S. Ratnoff (the Times is also rechristened as the Globe). Siegal himself said he "loved" the book and his own disastrous end. "I think it was riotously funny," he told Bercovici. We can't wait to see whether everybody else, who doesn't have the luck to get killed off in the first few pages, finds it so hilarious.

'NY Times' Editor Murdered! (in Fiction) [Portfolio]