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 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.