One gigantic life

Author Bill Roorbach visits Books & Co.

By Stacey Ritz

Giants come in all forms. Some giants develop in the physical sense, while others achieve the bigger than life status from within. Bill Roorbach, author of the newly released novel “Life Among Giants” shared, “I’ve been dreaming these characters for nearly 40 years. And having written and published a number of other books, I felt I was ready to tell their story, which is very layered and complex, dark at times, joyful too.” The two characters who take center stage in Roorbach’s latest novel are seven-foot David Hochmeyer (aka “Lizard”) and the petite Sylphide- a giant in her own way.

The story begins in 1970 when tragedy strikes Lizard, then a high-school football stand-out.  Lizard’s parents are brutally murdered right before his very eyes. Heading to Princeton and then to the National Football League, his life is forever changed. How do you deal with the murder of your parents while trying to build a life for yourself? How do you live with such a big unanswered question?

Lizard begins to suspect that the murder of his parents has a connection to his neighbor, Sylphide. In his attempt to bravely press forward in life and forget his past, he continues to be led over and over again back to Sylphide – but he just can’t quite figure out why. He is being led by his heart and his hormones and doesn’t know where to turn next. His older sister, Kate, is also entranced with the murders and wants answers but she, too, has other relationships that make for foggy judgment. Both Kate and Lizard feel uneasy about the court’s decision and know there’s someone out there who must have the missing piece of the puzzle.

While Lizard matures and morphs from a football star into the owner and chef of a high-end restaurant, to the outside world he shows every sign of normalcy. But on the inside, Lizard continues to be torn apart by the mystery of his past. His inner heart begs him to find answers and obtain revenge, but what that revenge will be is yet to be seen. This is a true coming-of-age story that proves that the events from our pasts build upon each other to make us who we are today. Lizard’s story proves that no matter how much we might like to, we cannot forget our past or where we come from, but rather we must embrace our history and build upon it to create the best life possible for ourselves and for those around us. And when you have a murder mystery in your past, it’s not something that you can just forget. Instead, it’s something you must solve – or die trying.

“Life Among Giants” brings a diverse array of emotions- with its mystery, suspense, love, spirit and at times humor- this novel is a must read. If you are in search of a story with a psychological twist- you’ve found your novel!

As part of his 16-city book tour, Bill Roorbach, the author of eight books of both fiction and non-fiction will be at the Dayton Books ‘N Company store on Nov. 30.  His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper’s Granta, and Roorbach’s story “Big Bend” was an O’Henry prize winner and was read on NPR’s Selected Shorts.

Roorbach developed the characters for “Life Among Giants” with much thought and consideration. Roorbach shared, “I’ve known people like these people, certainly hung out with athletes, dated dancers (back in the day!), worked in restaurants. All of these worlds have tremendous, colorful casts of characters!” Bill Roorbach loves to tell stories and he has done just that with his most recent novel.

If you’re reading the reviews about Lizard being an NFL football star and thinking this is a book only for athletes, think again. “It’s a book about a brilliant young man who evolves away from football to more rarified realms. He loves dance, he loves food, he loves a certain woman – maybe a little too much. Also, he has a terrible mystery to solve, and he must find his revenge.”  “Life Among Giants” reaches a diverse set of readers as it touches on so many concerns that we all share.  “I think the reason ‘Life Among Giants’ appeals to such a wide range of readers is that it touches a wide range of lives…And while Lizard’s problems and talents are greater than most, his gentle nature and kindness in the face of all horrors finds the best in all of us. He’s an appealing guy, I hope as satisfying to read about as to write!”

Sadly, Roorbach’s own mother passed away while he was creating “Life Among Giants.”  “ … And what I learned from that sad experience really changed the book,” Roorbach said. He learned, as his characters did, that the real giant inside of each of us emerges when we least expect it. Sometimes when we suffer the most, that is when the true test of our character becomes present. In the novel, Lizard, like Roorbach, pressed forward the only way he knew how and learned an unbelievable amount about himself and those around him along the way.

Bill Roorbach will be at the Dayton Books ‘N Company, 4453 Walnut St. in The Greene, on Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. For more information, visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Stacey Ritz at

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