During the course of last year's Lake Como weekend conversazione on the subject of crime writing, it was suggested that the participants might enjoy (not that there wasn't enough to do given the boat rides, restaurant visits, and so on) writing a serial story-that is, one of them would write an opening page or two ("A shot rang out . . . ") and then pass it on to the next writer, who would continue the effort ("She raised the glass to her lips. . . "), then on to the next until eventually the last of the participants would somehow pull it all together. The British contingent was rather taken by the idea, the Americans much less so, and the idea was dropped.

Back in the U.S., however, the notion came up again. A call was made to a writer of considerable reputation who after a half hour thinking it over agreed to start the opening pages. Others fell into line. A list of the participants is listed below:

Michael Cunningham
Dave Eggers
Jonathan Franzen
James Lasdun
Nani Power
Joanna Scott