Robert Girardi

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Robert Girardi
BornRobert Girardi
(1961-11-18) November 18, 1961 (age 58)
Springfield, Virginia
Alma materUniversity of Virginia, University of Iowa
GenreMystery fiction, Detective fiction, essays
Notable worksMadeleine's Ghost

The Pirate's Daughter: A Novel of Adventure
Vaporetto 13: A Novel
A Vaudeville of Devils: Seven Moral Tales
The Wrong Doyle

Gorgeous East

Robert Girardi (born November 18, 1961) is an American author, writing on the themes of mystery or detective fiction, and religion, like an American Graham Greene, and loser narrator, like Sam Lipsyte.

I think the world is much more of a place in which a man can be rescued by cows from pirates than it is this Raymond Carver world: "The man picked up a cup of coffee. He put it down. He knew there would be no coffee today."[1] [referring to Daphnis and Chloe]

I'll always be slightly out of sync with my contemporaries. I've never felt fully American - despite valiant attempts, I cannot bring myself to enjoy pro football or shopping malls. At the same time, I'm certainly not European. Instead I'm something in between, a perennial expatriate, a refugee from the gray skys over France, from the screech of the train coming into the Gare St. Lazare, from the wind blowing cold off Mount Olympus through the cracks around our bathroom window.[2]


Girardi was born in Springfield, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., the youngest of four children (two sisters and one brother), and educated in Springfield, Athens, and Paris. "...I went to Catholic school, and she told us stories from the Bible. Then she left, and a Greek woman came and told us Greek myths. So as a narrative, it was the best education that you could get."[3] His father was a CIA agent starting in Vienna, then Athens (during the military coup), and then Paris.

He co-created, wrote, and edited an underground newspaper in high school, titled The New Wave, then The Lee Wave, which included a comic strip titled "Gumshoe".

He majored in Studio Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He was first published during his undergraduate years in the Virginia Literary Review. After a brief stint at the Graduate Film School of the University of Southern California, he transferred to the University of Iowa where he graduated from the Writer's Workshop with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing in 1986. He also received the James Mitchener Fellowship for the manuscript of an early novel.[3][4]

Girardi labored for a decade, working at numerous odd jobs, writing seven unpublished novels, and several unproduced screenplays, before getting his first novel into print. Finally, an editor for Delacorte Press found the manuscript for Madeleine's Ghost on a friend's coffee table and fell in love with the story. "If I hadn't been published, I would have gone mad. I was getting very bitter. I don't know what I would have done. I would probably have joined the priesthood."[1]

Girardi followed with Vaporetto 13, and The Pirate's Daughter. He collected some novellas and short stories with ethical and religious themes, entitled A Vaudeville of Devils: Seven Moral Tales. He also wrote the autobiographical piece for the Washingtonian, about his 'spooky' upbringing, (notwithstanding his comments about the abuse of memoir).[3]

After this flurry of publishing activity, he returned to Hollywood with his teleplays for Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia[5] An old friend of his, Barbara Hall named the family Girardi in the series. A film adaptation of Vaporetto 13 was optioned for a film by Warner/Di Novi.[6] In 2003, Roland Joffé, was ready to start filming his novella "Sunday Evenings at Contessa Pasquali’s", but quit.[7]

When he came back to mystery fiction with The Wrong Doyle, it was with a small British publisher.[8][9] Apparently, the reorganization, of Delacorte Press after the purchase of Random House by Bertelsmann, cooled their ardor for a well regarded novelist. Delacorte was repositioned as a young readers imprint. His books went out of print.

He was spring 2008 writer-in-residence at Goucher College.[10] His novel, Gorgeous East couldn't get a review in The Washington Post. He was married to Linda Girardi; they have three children. He lives in an apartment on MacArthur Boulevard, Washington, D.C. [7]

His manuscripts are held at Georgetown University.[4]



  1. Madeleine's Ghost, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1995.
  2. The Pirate's Daughter: A Novel of Adventure, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1997.
  3. Vaporetto 13: A Novel, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1997.
  4. A Vaudeville of Devils: Seven Moral Tales, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1999.
  5. The Wrong Doyle, Sceptre (London, England), 2002, Justin, Charles (Boston, MA), 2004.
  6. Gorgeous East, St. Martin's Press, October 13, 2009, ISBN 978-0-312-56586-2 [11]

Magazine Articles / Short Stories[edit]

  1. "Nose Job", The New Republic, (November 13, 1995)
  2. "The Dinner Party", TriQuarterly, Issue 99 (Spring/Summer 1997)
  3. "Spooks on the Roof", Washingtonian, (April 2000)


  1. "Imbroglio", Judging Amy, (2001)
  2. "Vanity, Thy Name is Human", Joan of Arcadia, (First Aired 5/07/2004)[12]


  1. "Even Ghosts Get Tired: A review of William Peter Blatty's Elsewhere". National Review. March 27, 2009.


Robert Girardi is the only writer I know of who is working successfully in the neglected tradition of Guy de Maupassant, Isak Dinesen, and Edgar Allan Poe--with as protean an imagination and as dexterous a pen as any of theirs. You can read these seven moral tales for pure entertainment, then wait to see what else may linger. Madison Smartt Bell[13]

One of the great protean imaginations of the twentieth century, Robert Girardi combines a firm grasp of the real with a marvelously entertaining flair for the fantastic. The Wrong Doyle, as much as Vaporetto 13 or Madeline's Ghost, provides a ringing answer to the question: "What if a literary writer knew how to plot?" Madison Smartt Bell

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Michael (July 17, 1995). "Arts Beat: A Writer Gets A Life". Washington Post: B–5.
  2. ^ Girardi, Robert (April 2000). "Spooks on the Roof". Washingtonian: 39–44.
  3. ^ a b c "Bold Type Interview". 08 - 1998. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  4. ^ a b "Robert Girardi Papers". Georgetown University Library Special Collections. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  5. ^ Robert Girardi on IMDb.
  6. ^ Robert Girardis 'Vaporetto 13' To Get Adapted.
  7. ^ a b "Publish or Parish: Why Is Novelist Robert Girardi Cleaning His Church?", The Washington City Paper, Mike Riggs, May. 19, 2010
  8. ^ About Robert Girardi from
  9. ^ ISBN and reviews from
  10. ^ Kristen Keener (May 1, 2008). "Kratz Center for Creative Writing Presents Robert Girardi". Goucher College. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  11. ^ World Archipelago. "Gorgeous East". Macmillan.
  12. ^ "Joan of Arcadia:Vanity Thy Name is Human". Retrieved February 27, 2009.
  13. ^ Bryan Doerries. "A Vaudeville of Devils: 7 Moral Tales".

External links[edit]