RARA-AVIS: Hansen's reaction to 2001 death report

From: Richard Moore ( moorich2@aol.com)
Date: 29 Nov 2004

I don't know if Joseph Hansen is dead or not but ran across this letter by him in a 2001 newsletter from Portland, Oregon's Friends of Mystery that refuted an earlier report of his death:

September 2001

Joseph Hansen--alive and well! The Executive Committee of Friends of Mystery apologizes for the incorrect notice of the death of Joseph Hansen that was printed in our May Blood-Letter. One of our editors, who gave the newsletter a final review, had read that Hansen had died recently and inserted a sentence into a review Stan Johnson wrote of Hansen's latest collection of stories, Blood, Snow, & Classic Cars. Happily, Mr. Hansen is alive and well in Southern California, and wrote the following letter to FOM Founder Jay Margules in response to Jay's letter of apology Dear Jay This is not the first time I have been reported dead. In 1990 I got a letter from a reader in the Philippines. "They are saying you are dead. Dear Mr. Hansen, please tell me you are not dead." I told him by return mail. But the next weekend I was lunching in a Hollywood Boulevard cafe, when a bookseller friend walked in. I saw him as he caught sight of me. He peered at me and went pale. "Dear God," he said, "you're still with us." Turned out he too had heard that I was dead. The next week came a worried letter from Europe. I was never able to learn where the rumor started. But of course I turned the situation into fiction in the very first scene of the next Dave Brandstetter novel, A Country of Old Men. A friend has pointed out that I am now positioned to quote Mark Twain's response when he was wrongly reported dead. But I won't. It has been cited often enough. What I will do is ask that the next issue of The Blood-Letter post a note that I am after all alive, in reasonable health for my age, and still writing. This may disappoint a few readers, but that can't be helped. Facts are facts. Someone recently put forth on the Internet the "surprising fact" that Joseph Hansen is not gay. To correct that was not easy, but it is even harder to undo the impress of the printed word. The readership of The Blood Letter is small, I expect, but so is the world of mystery buffs, and it has a fearsomely active grapevine. Please do what you can to set the record straight. Thanks, Jay. It was nice to hear from you again. With good wishes - Joe

Again, this 2004 report may well be true but the earlier incident should be a caution on any such reports.

Richard Moore

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Nov 2004 EST