Know Maass

Department of complaints.
July 11 1997 3:30 AM

Know Maass

And please don't confuse me with that other writer with the similar name.

When I first moved to Manhattan, a neighbor approached me in the corridor of my apartment building.

Advertisement

"Are you Peter Maass, the writer?"

Though I have heard this question many times over the years, I still don't know the correct response. Yes, I am; no, I am not. Both are accurate. Unfortunately, I offered my neighbor a reply that raised more questions than it answered.

"Yes, I am, but there are two of us."

37000_37627_970708_maassbookpeople

He looked at me oddly and adopted one of those don't-mess-with-me expressions that New Yorkers are born with. If an opportunity for amity had existed between us, it seemed to have vanished. He slipped into the elevator, I slipped into my apartment, and I imagine he rolled his eyes to the ceiling and thought, "Great, another nut case in the building."

If only he knew the truth.

I am a writer--a very good writer, according to my mother. I worked for the Washington Post for nearly a decade, and I have written a book about my experiences covering the war in Bosnia. It was published last year and got positive reviews. It even won a couple of awards. So when people ask whether I am Peter Maass, the writer, I should feel good, I should feel triumphant, I should feel like a master of the literary universe receiving the adulation he so rightly deserves, and I should reply in a voice of elegant humility, "Yes, I am."

But I don't. I can't.

My problem is this: Although I am Peter Maass, the writer, I am not Peter Maas, the writer. Peter Maas--one "s," not two--has a career's worth of books under his belt, and he's famous. Serpico famous. Valachi Papers famous. This has created a great deal of confusion. I've received letters intended for him, phone calls intended for him, compliments intended for him, a publishing solicitation intended for him, even a job offer intended for him (which I turned down).

I have never met the guy.

  News & Politics
Politics
Jan. 28 2015 2:33 PM When Jeb Bush and Bill Belichick Were High School Classmates The young Jeb wasn’t always straitlaced. There were his Andover years, when he and classmates (like the future Patriots head coach) cut loose.