July 28, 2006

Author’s contest seeks juicy, mean divorce stories

By David Gregorio

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When a gas explosion leveled a
Manhattan building after the doctor who lived there reportedly
warned his ex-wife he would never sell the place to pay a
divorce settlement, most New Yorkers were stunned.

Even author Warren Adler, whose novel "The War of the
Roses" chronicles a divorce battle that spins out of control,
was surprised by the incident, which occurred a few blocks from
his home.

But when he heard the reason for the blast, he chalked it
up as one more tragic tale. Adler's e-mail has been filling up
with similar tales of woe.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of "War of
the Roses," the author is running a contest for "the juiciest,
meanest and veracious divorce story." Stories about bad
break-ups will also be considered. So far, he's received about
200 entries.

Adler said a "top-notch" prize will be presented to the
winner, who will be announced on February 14 -- Valentine's

Once he gets permission to share the stories, Adler intends
to post the entries on his Web site

He thought the contest might produce some funny anecdotes,
but a lot of the stories have been heart-breaking -- poisoned
pets, kidnapped children and decimated houses.

Dr. Nicholas Bartha, who lived on Manhattan's tony Upper
East Side, died this month after his apartment and office
building were destroyed by a gas explosion. Police said Bartha
wrote a rambling e-mail to his estranged wife in which he
seemed suicidal and said he did not want to sell the building
to pay for a divorce settlement.

"People who once loved each other really hate each other.
... There's a lot of evil out there; there's evil in all of us,
and it comes out in divorce," Adler told Reuters.

"It's not funny, they don't laugh about it. ... But people
need to tell someone about it. Maybe it's for catharsis, to get
things off their chest."

Since his novel was turned into a 1989 film starring
Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, Adler has often been asked
to share his opinions and insights on divorce, which is a tad

"I'm viewed as the world's biggest expert on divorce, even
though I've never been divorced," chuckled Adler, 78, who has
been married for 50 years. "Everything I know about it comes
from research; my antenna goes up naturally after hearing all
these divorce stories."