Bob Levey’s ‘Novel’ Candidate: Too Good to Be True

Former Washington Post columnist Bob Levey. Photo by Patrick G. Ryan.

Maryland congressional candidate Larry Felder is a great guy. He is faithful to his severely disabled wife and a loyal friend to colleagues. He’s fit, organized, loved by his staff, very “woke” and funny.

A former Washington Post reporter and columnist who always dreamed of a second act as a congressman, Felder has a finely tuned journalistic skepticism, just right to cut through political hype and fast-talking lobbyists.

He’s first in the polls for the upcoming election. Money and support are pouring in, far ahead of his woman opponent until …

“Larry Felder, Candidate,” the debut novel by former Washington Post columnist Bob Levey — whose daily columns about Washington life were a must-read (and now missed) for many in D.C. for decades — takes a dramatic turn mid-book. To not be a spoiler, let’s say that the ending is dramatic, surprising and almost “West Wing”-ish.

Levey’s Felder is a candidate that many readers in these tumultuous political times may wish could exist; Felder is, sadly, almost too good to be true (two words: no cover-up).

Levey had been thinking about Felder, the other characters and the plot of the book for years, forming it all in his mind in the shower (which, he admits. is one of his best singing venues as well). He pitched the book idea for two years to New York agents, then, after taking an early buyout from the Post, decided to join the growing number of “indies” and do it himself.

Levey’s a writer. The words just flowed. He wrote the book, available on Amazon, in a week.

His main character (like the author, no doubt) has a “habitual habit of caution. Rushing to judgment was for those who truly pined to be talking heads on CNN.” Levey even has Felder promise that he would be “the only member of the House who would actually read every bill on which he voted.” And, says Felder, “That wasn’t a joke.”

It’s not a bio however, even though his character is a journalist.

“Believe me, I will never run for office,” Levey said, laughing during an interview at Paul’s in Bethesda, a few blocks from his house. But “Once a newsie, always a newsie,” Felder says in the book, as troubles mount and he turns to his journalism skills to find out what is going on.

Levey wrote more than 5,000 articles, not missing a day of the week for 23 years. He loved covering stories about D.C. neighborhoods and people. “There’s news everywhere in this community every minute of every day,” he says.

With his vibrant voice and friendly good looks, Levey hosted radio and TV shows on local stations for over a decade. He also sings in folk music groups and plays national championship competitive duplicate bridge.

Levey continues to write pieces for the Post and teaches the new generation of journalists at several local colleges. But most of all, right now, he is having fun presenting his book at book fairs and book clubs. And he’s working on a second novel, this one about a conservative radio show host — who probably won’t be quite as “West Wing” as Larry Felder.

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