Discussion on “Coming-of-Age Novel,” They Shot Kennedy, Set in Madison
Aug 23, 2022 7:15 AM
David Benjamin, Author
Discussion on “Coming-of-Age Novel,” They Shot Kennedy, Set in Madison


Madison author David Benjamin, who also spends part of his time in Paris, has lived all over the world. He has called Tokyo and Brussels home as well as Brooklyn and San Francisco.

But Wisconsin is where the author began writing novels –going back to elementary school in Tomah where he began his first novel. Since then, despite his travels, his books reflect his Wisconsin roots. Readers have learned to love the way he tells a story from the perspective of a writer who knows the heartland well.

Benjamin is also a publisher of Last Kid Books (www.lastkidbooks.com) named for his popular memoir. The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked. He’s a newspaper veteran, award-winning editor of the Mansfield (Mass.) News, Tokyo Journal in Japan, and other periodicals.

“The Great Madison Novel”

If you grew up in Wisconsin in the Sixties, as author David Benjamin did, you may remember some Madison landmarks that are permanently etched in the city’s unique sense of place.

You’re in for a nostalgic ride back to the Sixties in They Shot Kennedy, the author’s slightly autobiographical novel, set in Madison. He will be speaking in person at the Sun Prairie Rotary Club at the Colonial Club as well as to Zoom participants.  https://zoom.us/j/964291657   You’re welcome to join the conversation.

Benjamin’s book has been called the quintessential “Great Madison Novel” by combining comic relief and adolescent angst amid the twentieth century’s profoundest presidential tragedy. Benjamin noted, “While the assassination of JFK was a turning point in American history. They Shot Kennedy is a microcosm of how the tragedy affected ordinary people leading their own distracted, self-absorbed and confusing lives.”

Grand Prize Winner

They Shot Kennedy was recently honored with the 2021 Grand Prize for literary/contemporary/historical fiction from the Midwest Book Awards. The book is a work of “microhistory,” a snapshot of people’s lives at a critical moment in history, unrecorded in any history book but vital to understanding how the events of that moment in time affected and altered those people’s lives.

Familiar Madison Landmarks

Among the haunts in Benjamin’s book are Breese Stevens Field, Warner Park, and Langdon Street as these spots were hopping along in the Sixties. Also included are famed bars and eateries like the Kollege Klub, the Edgewater, Leske’s Supper Club, and the Rathskeller.

The author’s entertaining and often surprising results of his research provide a portrait of social norms that were present in Madison as well as throughout the country in 1963.

Provided by Jeanne Behrend