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We'll Always Have Cleveland: A Memoir of a Novelist and a City

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When novelist and television producer Les Roberts arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for a short-term consulting job in 1986, he wasn't entirely prepared. It was January, and he'd brought no overcoat, no boots. That chilly Northeast Ohio surprise wasn't all he was unprepared for. He never dreamed that, just months later, he'd find himself so completely won over by the p When novelist and television producer Les Roberts arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for a short-term consulting job in 1986, he wasn't entirely prepared. It was January, and he'd brought no overcoat, no boots. That chilly Northeast Ohio surprise wasn't all he was unprepared for. He never dreamed that, just months later, he'd find himself so completely won over by the place that he'd give up the glitz of Hollywood and put down roots in this rustbelt city. It took only a few weeks in Cleveland to convince Roberts that the city was a ripe setting for his next private-eye novel. Then, a chance meeting on an airplane led him to the inspiration for his new character: Milan Jacovich (pronounced My-lan Yock-o-vitch), a tough Slovenian-American sleuth with a master's degree and a taste for klobasa sandwiches and cold Stroh's beer. The combination proved very successful. Thirteen Milan Jacovich novels resulted, and with each book Roberts drew more heavily on real Cleveland places and people for the authentic local flavor of his stories. From the upscale Heights to the industrial Flats, from shiny new Jacobs Field to the aging ethnic neighborhoods, Roberts and Jacovich covered the town. They saw where the deals were made (Johnny's Bar, Little Italy), the good times were had (The Velvet Tango Room, Vuk's Tavern), and the bodies were found (all over the place!). In this memoir, Roberts tells how he discovered the heart and soul of a city while fictionalizing it for a series of novels. He writes about his favorite locations and his favorite people (and at least one person who was not happy to find himself in a novel). It will appeal to fans of the series, fans of the city, and aspiring novelists who want to learn how one writer took a city and made it his own through fiction.


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When novelist and television producer Les Roberts arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for a short-term consulting job in 1986, he wasn't entirely prepared. It was January, and he'd brought no overcoat, no boots. That chilly Northeast Ohio surprise wasn't all he was unprepared for. He never dreamed that, just months later, he'd find himself so completely won over by the p When novelist and television producer Les Roberts arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for a short-term consulting job in 1986, he wasn't entirely prepared. It was January, and he'd brought no overcoat, no boots. That chilly Northeast Ohio surprise wasn't all he was unprepared for. He never dreamed that, just months later, he'd find himself so completely won over by the place that he'd give up the glitz of Hollywood and put down roots in this rustbelt city. It took only a few weeks in Cleveland to convince Roberts that the city was a ripe setting for his next private-eye novel. Then, a chance meeting on an airplane led him to the inspiration for his new character: Milan Jacovich (pronounced My-lan Yock-o-vitch), a tough Slovenian-American sleuth with a master's degree and a taste for klobasa sandwiches and cold Stroh's beer. The combination proved very successful. Thirteen Milan Jacovich novels resulted, and with each book Roberts drew more heavily on real Cleveland places and people for the authentic local flavor of his stories. From the upscale Heights to the industrial Flats, from shiny new Jacobs Field to the aging ethnic neighborhoods, Roberts and Jacovich covered the town. They saw where the deals were made (Johnny's Bar, Little Italy), the good times were had (The Velvet Tango Room, Vuk's Tavern), and the bodies were found (all over the place!). In this memoir, Roberts tells how he discovered the heart and soul of a city while fictionalizing it for a series of novels. He writes about his favorite locations and his favorite people (and at least one person who was not happy to find himself in a novel). It will appeal to fans of the series, fans of the city, and aspiring novelists who want to learn how one writer took a city and made it his own through fiction.

30 review for We'll Always Have Cleveland: A Memoir of a Novelist and a City

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda Spear

    Have seen Les behind the podium so many times, at Ohio conferences and Hiram College. I so enjoyed this look at his life. I only buy books I really want to keep and maybe read again. I bought this one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    I have seen this book out on the shelves at Borders. I have heard from Amazon that it is a worthwhile book to read. If have been living in Northeast Ohio for a long time, you can relate to what the author goes through in this book. This is a must read for anyone who is new to Ohio or anyone who has lived in Ohio for many years especially if you are moving from another state to Cleveland, Ohio as a new comer. I have just skimmed through several pages of this book. The author of this book gives th I have seen this book out on the shelves at Borders. I have heard from Amazon that it is a worthwhile book to read. If have been living in Northeast Ohio for a long time, you can relate to what the author goes through in this book. This is a must read for anyone who is new to Ohio or anyone who has lived in Ohio for many years especially if you are moving from another state to Cleveland, Ohio as a new comer. I have just skimmed through several pages of this book. The author of this book gives the reader very good advice and insight for those who have no choice, but to live and work in Ohio and accept the people of Ohio and not stereotype them in a negative way. I guess that this comes to that Ohio is not that bad of a place to live, you have to be willing to come up to strangers and meet people at random. All it takes is a person who is willing to become outgoing and friendly enough to make new friends easily at random. Of course, we all love places like California and IL where there is a city train that people take, and not everyone owns a car. In the states that I mentioned above,who could forget the vast diversity of seeing an actual Korea or Chinatown. Ohio may not have major public transportation like a city train that you see people who can not get a car ride to go anywhere. Like the author said you have to comes to terms in your new adopted Ohio and have a mature attitude in liking it for what Ohio is.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    My graduate school was in Cleveland, and I really did enjoy living there. Well, Cleveland Heights, and specifically Coventry. No matter that everyone made jokes about The Mistake on the Lake. Still, when I read that Les Roberts had intentionally moved from California to Cleveland - by choice, not forced by a paycheck - my nosy self wanted to know why. This book answers my question. Probably mainly of interest to those who have some knowledge of the city, he talks about why Cleveland makes him fee My graduate school was in Cleveland, and I really did enjoy living there. Well, Cleveland Heights, and specifically Coventry. No matter that everyone made jokes about The Mistake on the Lake. Still, when I read that Les Roberts had intentionally moved from California to Cleveland - by choice, not forced by a paycheck - my nosy self wanted to know why. This book answers my question. Probably mainly of interest to those who have some knowledge of the city, he talks about why Cleveland makes him feel comfortable, what is good about the area, and also what needs to be upgraded. Much of what he says fits along with my father's teachings about the city. Reading this was like coming home. That said, Roberts' mysteries show his writing off better than this book, which is too superficial to convince or interest anyone who has little knowledge of the area.

  4. 5 out of 5

    April Helms

    Fans of Roberts's works, particularly the Milan Jacovich mystery series, and residents of Cleveland will enjoy this. It's not really an autobiography, but the author relates his life and impressions of Cleveland (and elsewhere), and he tells of some of the inspirations for some of his characters and locations in the Jacovich series. He relates what he loves about the city - and a few things that drive him (and I suspect most residents) nuts, the people who he has befriended and some of his favor Fans of Roberts's works, particularly the Milan Jacovich mystery series, and residents of Cleveland will enjoy this. It's not really an autobiography, but the author relates his life and impressions of Cleveland (and elsewhere), and he tells of some of the inspirations for some of his characters and locations in the Jacovich series. He relates what he loves about the city - and a few things that drive him (and I suspect most residents) nuts, the people who he has befriended and some of his favorite haunts. Actually, this isn't a bad guide for Cleveland-area residents who want to explore their neighborhood, or for those who have recently moved here and want to know this area better. This short book (180 pages)has a conversational, easy to read style, and, having met the author I can "hear" him narrating it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    This is a book that I'd like to own because Roberts talks about all his Milan Jacovich books with lots of tidbits on how, when or why. You also get a further glimpse of the man Les Roberts, his life and especially his connection with Cleveland. Just did a reread of this book in preparation to rereading the Milan Jacovich series, and I now know Roberts didn't stop the series and that there are 2 more since 2011 plus another in the works...yahoo! This time around when rereading the book, I feel th This is a book that I'd like to own because Roberts talks about all his Milan Jacovich books with lots of tidbits on how, when or why. You also get a further glimpse of the man Les Roberts, his life and especially his connection with Cleveland. Just did a reread of this book in preparation to rereading the Milan Jacovich series, and I now know Roberts didn't stop the series and that there are 2 more since 2011 plus another in the works...yahoo! This time around when rereading the book, I feel that his cancer scare did change him...seemed a little different when talking about his life in the book vs the time we heard him speak at library before his illness.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lewyn

    This book, written by a mystery novelist whose books are set in Cleveland, discusses the author's move to Cleveland, how he writes his novels, and even how he chooses the names of his characters (often based on people he knows in Cleveland). Most of this book was moderately interesting to me, but near the end Roberts gets a bit too focused on how great all his friends are. Having said that, if I still lived in Cleveland (where I lived 1996-97) I would probably recognize more of the names Roberts This book, written by a mystery novelist whose books are set in Cleveland, discusses the author's move to Cleveland, how he writes his novels, and even how he chooses the names of his characters (often based on people he knows in Cleveland). Most of this book was moderately interesting to me, but near the end Roberts gets a bit too focused on how great all his friends are. Having said that, if I still lived in Cleveland (where I lived 1996-97) I would probably recognize more of the names Roberts mentions and appreciate this book more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This book was fairly underwhelming. While it was a short, breezy, read, for which the author deserves some credit, it also seemed to be mostly just a compilation of lists: people, places, and restaurants throughout Northeast Ohio. The descriptions were often too short to even be considered vignettes. Also, several times the same things were repeated in different chapters, and I found several typos, which always rub me the wrong way. This book could have used more editing and polish.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I find it rather interesting that I've just read & enjoyed this memoir of a mystery writer who's written a 13 book series of mysteries based in Cleveland, when I've never read a single novel of his. I will someday though I'm sure I won't become a big fan. I still haven't met a mystery I really likedd! I find it rather interesting that I've just read & enjoyed this memoir of a mystery writer who's written a 13 book series of mysteries based in Cleveland, when I've never read a single novel of his. I will someday though I'm sure I won't become a big fan. I still haven't met a mystery I really likedd!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Ott

    "We'll Always Have Cleveland" - written by Les Roberts and published in 2006 by Gray & Company. A heartfelt memoir that went on a bit too long. "We'll Always Have Cleveland" - written by Les Roberts and published in 2006 by Gray & Company. A heartfelt memoir that went on a bit too long.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tory Wagner

    Enjoyed all the references to different restuarants and places in Cleveland. That Les Roberts really has an ego!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicky Wills

    I have enjoyed Les Roberts mystery novels but found him to be pompous in his memoir. I also was unhappy with his neglect of the westside of Cleveland - focused only on the East side.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rick

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marian

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carey

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richard D

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lee

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  21. 4 out of 5

    Harvey Yelsky

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tom Woodbery

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lori

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria Ciletti

  27. 5 out of 5

    travelerblue

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debbie P

  29. 4 out of 5

    Harry J. Gregory

  30. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Newsome

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