New York is apparently such a literary mecca for "first-class" writing that the Saturday Review magazine just couldn't be anywhere else. In fact, Publisher Paul Dietrich, who made the decision to move the magazine from Washington to New York, explained yesterday that it was a "burden not having first-class writing here in the cultural field. We tried writers here, but I can't tell you how many kill fees we paid." Dietrich, who moved the magazine here from St. Louis a year and a half ago, said that "when it came to the depth of cultural writing for cultural criticism, we couldn't find the people here who had the background or interest."

Washingtonian magazine Editor Jack Limpert, who has been dealing with Washington free-lancers for more than 15 years, didn't leap to the defense of the wordsmiths here. "Cultural writing is the weakest area here," Limpert said. "Washington writers are interested in restaurants and politics and not those funny people dancing around on the stage." Comparing working with writers to working with lions in the circus, Limpert said, "There are a lot of people here who call themselves writers who aren't very good."

Washington writer Joseph C. Goulden, author of several books who has been active with Washington Independent Writers, was a bit miffed when he read a quote of Dietrich's denigrating writers in New York magazine. Goulden said, "I called 12 persons who have published books in the last year, all residents of D.C., and only one had ever heard -- and he only vaguely -- that Saturday Review was ever officially here. The name Dietrich rang not the slightest of bells anywhere. Alas, farewell and good riddance." It might be pointed out that Dietrich admits that New York won't answer all his writing problems. He can't find good rock writers there -- they're all in Los Angeles, he says.

The Challenger Fund, Cont'd

The Space Shuttle Children's Fund continues to grow. Editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman of The Oregonian in Portland, emotionally moved by the Challenger explosion, created a cartoon showing an American flag against a nighttime sky with seven stars missing from the flag. Those stars, in a constellation in the shape of the shuttle, were shining in the dark sky. Ohman's newspaper paid to have the cartoon printed into a poster signed by the artist, and the poster is being sold for a minimum donation of $5. Some have paid several hundred dollars for it. Ohman came to Washington yesterday to deliver a check for $20,000 to American Security Bank, which holds the Children's Fund account.

Trump's Own Tale

If an automobile executive like Lee Iacocca can produce a book that ends up one of the all-time best sellers, what will a book by flamboyant superdeveloper Donald Trump do? Random House is about to find out. The 39-year-old Manhattan baron, who owns several monuments to his name, such as Trump Tower and Trump Plaza, as well as Atlantic City casinos, and who now has plans to construct the tallest building in the world in New York City, has signed to write a book that will be part autobiography and part the art of the big deal. New York magazine writer Tony Schwartz will collaborate with Trump on the book, but will not receive a jacket credit.

Random House Associate Publisher Peter Osnos said yesterday that the book, tentatively titled "The Art of a Deal," is expected to be published in 1987. "Trump has a very special kind of vitality," Osnos said, "He really captures the excitement of New York and the art of making the biggest deals. He's responsible for some of the boldest projects in the history of the city and has accomplished them with verve and ingenuity." Osnos said Trump's share of the book's profits would probably be donated to an as yet undesignated charity.

End Notes

Singer Connie Francis, who has had a series of emotional and legal problems for the last few years, was judged imcompetent to manage her own affairs yesterday by a New Jersey Superior Court judge. She is said to be suffering from what is described as manic-depressive psychosis. The court apponted her accountant as legal guardian to handle the singer's business and personal interests during her hospitalization. The 47-year-old Francis is being treated at the Carrier Foundation Clinic in Belle Mead, N.J., where she has been since Feb. 12. George Franconero, the singer's father, confirmed his daughter's conditon in a court appearance . . .

Rep. John Grotberg is out of his coma, doctors at the National Institutes of Health said yesterday. He had been unconscious for six weeks after suffering from complications from an experimental cancer treatment. According to his press secretary, Grotberg, who is a candidate for reelection in Illinois, has been responding to more and more commands since the first of the week . . .