I wrote The Widower in 1992, shortly after the publication of my first book, The Very Bad Thing (Viking Penguin, 1990). In 1992, there were 11 million cell phones in use in the U.S., about one for every thirty people. Cell phones do not appear in this story. If they did, the story would be vastly different or wouldn’t exist at all. In 1992, we depended much more on other people than on machines. And people, as we know, are far less reliable than most machines.
This edition is very slightly different from the original manuscript — a hard copy of which is all my wife Carla and I had to work from. The few changes generally reflect shifts in cultural references, and far fewer semicolons. Profound thanks to Carla for all her typing, editing notes, and cover-to-cover book design.
But my largest thanks must go to this book’s dedicatee and my former agent, Margaret (Meg) Ruley, still with the venerable Jane Rotrosen Agency in New York after some thirty years. Meg sold The Very Bad Thing and almost sold The Widower. It was her enthusiasm, back then, that recently inspired me to haul the manuscript up from our basement and take another gander at it, for the first time since I wrote it.
A death in the family can be tricky stuff — and bumpy terrain for a writer. Trauma and grief are far more likely than a sense of relief and vindication, but death plays across a broad sweep of emotions and responses. When Carla was typing it upstairs, I often heard her erupting with laughter, so I knew, yes indeed, humor can be an unexpected part of that emotional landscape.
- Ned White, September 2016