Seinfeld famously cast Boca Raton as a place where old people go to die. We South Floridians know, of course, that Boca is so much more than retirement homes and long lines of seniors at all-you-can-eat buffets. It's also a land of soccer moms, country club wives, nose jobs, breast implants, and preteens with designer purses. Eddie Perlmutter, the central character in the just-released comedic crime novel Boca Knights, adds this category of Boca resident: the "usetabe." The usetabe is a onetime captain of industry or highly respected professional who now focuses his or her energy on, say, golf games. Here's an excerpt:
They blended together in a leisure universe of white hair and tightly scheduled fun. They reminded me of thoroughbred race horses that had been put out to pasture as a reward for a winning career. They could still remember the thrill of the race, but their racing days were over.
Boca Knights is the work of Steven M. Forman, a 66-year-old owner of a multimillion-dollar seafood distribution company who grew up in the Boston area and has kept a house in Boca Raton since 1992. Forman decided to give writing a stab a few years ago and quickly sold a literary agent on Boca Knights. His story is about a retired Boston cop who ends up solving a murder, fighting neo-Nazis, and rallying Boca to action.
Forman (pictured at right) will sign copies of his book at 6 p.m. Sunday, February 8, at the Barnes and Noble on Glades Road. And if you bring a can of tuna, he might put his John Hancock on that too.
Keep reading for a Q+A with Forman.
What do you like about living in Boca?
It's got a tremendous cross-section of people there. A lot of people have the impression that Boca Raton is only retired people, and older people, and it's just not so. There's plenty of school buses. It's as beautiful as a city can be made to be.
Do you think your book works to dispel that notion of Boca, as Seinfeld said, being a place where people move to die?
I'm not going to say that what Seinfeld depicts isn't partially accurate. I mean, there is plenty of the condo associations and the nonsense that you see in Seinfeld. But you have to remember that he's in it for laughs and caricatures. There's an immense amount of talent that exists when you have a retired community of some very successful people with tremendous stories to tell and contributions still to make. And then you've got the young and vibrant community coming up. So there are places like Seinfeld depicts it, but that's not the whole picture. And I try to dispel that in the book -- I poke fun at what's funny, and what everybody sees as traditional, like Seinfeld does, but I also point out that there's a lot more there.
Do you think that Boca has a voice? That there's a writer who represents Boca?
Not that I'm aware of. I don't know that I qualify to be the voice of Boca, but I tell the story of my Boca -- of what I perceive the place the be. If I become the voice of Boca, that would be nice, and I'm gonna tell both sides of the story. I can tell an old joke as well as anybody.
Why did you make your central character a retired Boston cop?
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I tried to create a character who didn't belong there. I made him the antithesis, the anti-Boca. There's nothing about his background that would have him be in that town. He's kind of a wild man. He's virtually an atheist -- he's got a Jewish background, but no religion. Then you drop him in the middle of civilization. When he gets there everything is early bird specials and old jokes, but he's fast to see past it. He's kind of a loner. I wanted to make him as rough-edged as possible. So I made him an ultra-courageous policeman, very rough edges, golden gloves fighter as a kid, been shot a couple of times, highly decorated for bravery, no exposure to an older community, no exposure to the nicer side of life, so to speak. He's always in the mean streets, fighting crime, and all of a sudden he's dropped in the middle of a gated community. I just wanted to make him as tough and as opposite of the community he's going to as possible so they [the readers] can see it from an outsider's eyes.
It seems like the over-arching message of the book is for people to reinvent themselves and stay relevant.
To be active. To fight for things you think are right. It's also got a message of fighting for the right to live in peace. And not, because you're older or retired, saying I can't do this. Or let's let somebody else worry about it.