Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Red Hot

Date: 18 Sep 2000

    The really interesting stuff about most writers can be found in the words they've written, and sometimes in how and why they came to write what they did. The Hemingway myth has turned out to be a lot less satisfying than the stories and novels he left behind. George Higgins lived a pretty quiet life, even when he was doing gangland murder prosecutions, but his work and his attempts to carry prose dialogue to new places in crime fiction writing is damned interesting.
    I'd have loved to have known John D, for no other reasons than those that have come from reading his work. Travis was his creation and that counts for plenty. However, I have no illusions that knowing him would have made us interesting to each other personally, nor would it have guaranteed friendship.
    A few years ago, I spent several hours (along with 4 or 5 other people) talking to Joyce Carol Oates who is one of my literary heroes. She is a modest and private person, but at the end of our time together I could not resist using a one-on-one moment to make a total ass of myself by trying to tell her how much I have enjoyed and learned from her work, and by trying to get her to tell me more about herself.
    I was reaching for answers about how she came to write "Man Crazy," and I was looking for connections between the characters and the author. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. I've never seen anyone squirm like that, but once underway, I couldn't stop until I'd finished embarrassing both of us.
    We know the writers we love only through their works, and they don't know us at all. Most of the time that should be enough for both sides. It seems strange to me now to claim disappointment when a writer reveals little beyond his or her work, either directly or through biography.

                                    Jim Blue

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