Thursday, September 20, 2007

Silent Pens

This is hardly breaking news, but I'm still feeling a touch melancholy about it.

James Oliver Rigney, Jr., more commonly known as Robert Jordan, died on Sunday. He was only 58 years old. He seemed really happy before his diagnosis with cardiac amyloidosis. And he wasn't done with his life's work; he had so much left that he was planning to do. Very very sad. Lots of people die every day, and there's a war going on. So why does this matter so much?

Perhaps because, as a writer, he touched a lot of people. Sure there are valid critiques of his work. Still, I have read many hundreds of pages of his writing, and so someone I know - however distantly - has died. Too soon, too soon.

Madeleine L'Engle (LENG-el, Mom, I was right) also died this month. She was 88 and died of "natural causes." She had a robust body of work, comprising writing for adults and children, poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction. Her work touched me too, probably more so than Jordan's. L'Engle's husband and son were already dead, and she had moved into a nursing home. Over the course of her slow decline, she had osteoporosis and a cerebral hemorrhage. She accomplished a lot in her life, and did some really interesting things. It's not such a terrible way to end.

I had other thoughts, about the disparagement of fantasy literature and its importance in our society, but it turns out that I don't want this to be part of a larger point. Two writers died. I find myself celebrating the life of one, and mourning the loss of the other. That's your time. Pens down.


  1. I thought of you when I heard Robert Jordan had died.

  2. Oh, I was so sad over these deaths. I read WOT every night while I was nursing the Boy. He would fall asleep in my arms and I would pretend not to notice so I could hold him a little longer (and get in a few more pages). I'll always connect those books to that time. And L'Engle--what can I say? I *was* Meg Murphy--awkward, miserable, fatherless. That book saved my life, possibly literally.

    They'll both be missed.

  3. Krupskaya, that embarassed me a little. So I probably need to think about why that is . . .

    PK, that's a lovely image. And, for so long, I wanted to be a physicist (until I actually took physics). Her YA series were so very very important to me.