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“I was trying to prove something to myself I guess, I was trying to see how far I could go. You know when I began writing, I didn’t say can I write a book? I thought can I write a sentence, can I write a paragraph, can I complete this page?”

--Author Howard Engel

Photo credit: John Reeves

Capturing Cooperman: A Not So Private Investigation of Howard Engel is a one hour documentary premiering July 6th on Bravo! Canada at 8pmET / 6pmMST / 5pmPT.

The film pays tribute to Engel’s writing life, his beloved character, Benny Cooperman, and his struggle to maintain his writing career after a stroke left him unable to read. For more information about the documentary click here.

In Howard’s latest podcast he discusses his career since the stroke, and his take on the upcoming film that profiles his life and work.

Like his detective Benny Cooperman, Howard Engel has alexia sine agraphia – he is unable to read, but still able to write. “Benny Cooperman got hit on the head, I had a stroke. So there’s a basic difference between what happened to me and what happened to Benny, but I wouldn’t have been able to put him in that hospital bed if I hadn’t been there before him.”

“One of the things that I was trying to do in Memory Book was show what it’s like from this side of the experience,” says Engel. “Professionals could tell me the sorts of things I’d run into, but everything changed, from my field of vision to the way my memory worked. These were all new things that I wanted to get down on paper. Benny is forgetful, he can remember six causes fo the Persian Wars but he can’t remember the name of the person he’s talking to – these are the things that happened to me, so they happened to Benny.”

Engel recently published East of Suez, his twelfth installment in the Benny Cooperman series. This time Cooperman finds himself in Southeast Asia, where his alexia doesn’t hinder him as much because he doesn’t read the language anyway.

“In writing a long-running series, you’re challenged to keep throwing new things at your detective, just to keep yourself alert and your creative juices flowing. So probably two or three books from now I’ll have him on Mars or something,” laughs Engel, “but practically speaking, it’s fun to watch the character develop. Benny is a comfortable person to be with. He’s good company and I try to keep him that way.”


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Read Expert Reviews of Memory Book

Webisode: How close is the private investigator, Benny Cooperman, to the real-life Howard Engel?

Memory Book Discussion Questions

Podcast: A Conversation with Howard Engel

Podcast: Booked Interactive revisits with Howard Engel