"It’s hard not to like the loser hero at the center of this quintessentially 21st-century crime caper"
-The Brooklyn Rail
"A formidable contribution to loser lit."
-Time Out New York
"Knipfel is vying for the a seat at the fiction table previously held by writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller."
Noogie's Time to Shine
Virgin Books USA, 2007
"Knipfel's talent for empathizing with the underdog, evident in his earlier work, makes Noogie's adventures poignant and funny."
A 35 year-old loser who loves movies a little too much, restocks ATMs for a living, and still lives with his mom in Jersey City pulls off the world’s most brilliantly stupid slow motion heist. When he’s found out, he takes it on the lam with his cat Dillinger and $3.5 million in $20 bills.
Based on a true story.
On January 3rd, 2002 I saw a little 250-word squib buried at the bottom of an inside page of the NY Post, and immediately started thinking it would make for a fun little novel. So I took the info in that brief news story and ran with it. When I showed it to my then-editor, he turned it down, telling me the whole premise was simply too unbelievable. When I then sent him the newspaper clip to prove it wasn’t all THAT unbelievable, he stopped returning my emails.
I eventually found a new publisher, but then things got complicated. When I told my new editor it was based on a true story, he insisted I rewrite the book as a true crime number. Okay then, so I set about doing some research. With Morgan’s help I scoured through old newspaper files. I interviewed the FBI agents and local police in Florida who worked the case. I got a hold of the coroner’s report. And the story that eventually revealed itself was more twisted and implausible than anything I could have come up with. At the same time though there were still huge gaps (nobody knew, for instance, what the real Noogie did during his month on the lam or what happened to a good chunk of the money). Still, I began writing a true crime book with all I did know.
Then my agent reminded me there were some mighty strict legal issues involved, especially when some of the players were still alive. Hearing this, my editor then suggested I write yet another version, this one blending the real story and fiction, which would allow me to fill in the gaps and dodge all the lawsuits. Neat thing about calling what you write “fiction”—you don’t have to worry about lively lawyers too much, though in this case Virgin’s made me change a few (already fictionalized) names, and made me change the Florida city in which the second half of the novel takes place. My god how those people annoy me.
The soundtrack for this one came from David Shire’s great, great brass-and-percussion score for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.