MEL GOLDBERG—Author and Literary Critic
By Rob Mohr
When I interviewed Mel, I asked him how he would like to be remembered. His answer was typical of his pragmatic approach to life. “As a good friend and as a good father.” “Great,” I thought. “What am I supposed to do with that in what should be a dynamic article about an equally dynamic man?” Then I read Mel’s insightful poem,
I loved a girl once
who said she was happy
until the heaviness came …
then the pieces fell on me
and pinned me to the earth.
His poem unwraps a profound human understanding of the underlying pain that many of us have experienced in love and reveals a more complex, less pragmatic, Mel—one who expresses the joys and pains of others. Mel’s insight is evident in his positive contributions within the Chapala Writers’ group chaired by Jim Tipton, and the larger Ajijic Writers’ Group, orchestrated by Alejandro Grattan. Mel’s focused observations and literary insight encourage and enable the presenting writers. His willingness to tackle grammar (Mel taught grammar as well as Creative Writing at the university level), coupled with his technical and literary comments, provide consistently helpful input for the participants.
Central to the respect he has gained from other writers is his disciplined work ethic. Up at five, Mel writes until 9 or 10 each morning. Then, throughout the day, he plays tennis, meets with friends, and peruses online upcoming writers’ contests, which he enters with regularity. On average, Mel makes thirty or more submissions each year with the intent of winning each. His talent, discipline and intense focus ensure that he will place in the top group of submissions. Mel’s not yet published novel, Catch a Killer: Save the World, was selected as one of the top ten in The Great Novel Contest. Later this year, the winner and the runner up will be announced. Mel has earned his place as a mature writer.
A Chicago native, Mel published his first play while in high school. After teaching literature in Los Angeles for thirteen years, and finishing his MA at California State University, he won a Fulbright Exchange Scholarship and taught for a year at Stanground College, Cambridgeshire, England. While in England, he also studied Irish poetry, whose earthy humor has had a definite impact on his poetry. In 1993 he retired in Sedona, Arizona (the best decision he says he ever made) where he taught at Yavapai College, and met Bev Kephart with whom he has shared the past 18 years. After publishing his first novel, Choices, and a book of poetry, Sedona Poems, he and Bev toured the United States in a motor home. In 1999, they made their first trip to Mexico and Lake Chapala where they fell in love with the people and the ambience. They moved to Lakeside full time in 2009 where Bev has played an important role in the visual arts community, while Mel has continued his writing and interaction with local writers.
Here at Lakeside, Mel has published in a wide variety of magazines and journals in the United States and Great Britain, completed his second novel, a book of short stories, and two books of poetry. He is currently working on his third novel, Counterfit Killing, which will be the second in a series in the mystery/detective genre. He hopes to finish this third novel by mid-summer. His books are available in Ajijic at Diane Pearl’s, the Bagel Shop, and Gallery 18, and in Chapala at the American Legion.