Friday, January 14, 2011

Carrying On

It almost seems as though everybody died last week.

Dunstan McNichol, investigative journalist for the Newark Star-Ledger. Young feller. In his fifties, I think. I used to follow his work with interest. He outed a lot of significant corruption in New Jersey state government, and sent Wayne Bryant to jail.

Ruth Cavin, legendary editor at St. Martin's Press. Still going to work every day at ninety-two. She was my friend Robin's editor, the editor of many other mystery writers, and a beloved person.

Joe Gores, crime writer, Edgar-winner, author of a huge body of well-respected and greatly enjoyed work.

John Gross, British literary critic and book editor for the New York Times from 1983 to 1989. The Spectator called him "the best-read man in Britain." He reviewed my first book on the very day it came out, thereby launching my literary career, such as it is. (He liked my book! A respectable critic!)

Sad but true that we shan't see their like again, but their lives can still stand as an inspiration to the rest of us. Investigative journalism isn't dead. Just yesterday morning a story appeared in the Trenton Times by staff writer Alex Zdan, exposing a deal whereby a contributor to mayor Tony Mack's campaign was allowed to buy 36 lots from the city, worth almost a million dollars, for one dollar apiece. Great story, nicely researched. (Too bad they ran it on page A10.)

For that matter, fine crime writing isn't dead. Good literary criticism isn't dead. We all just have to get busy and do it.

As for Ruth Cavin, I can't call her death tragic, although she will certainly be missed. Of all the available ways to leave this mortal coil, dying at a ripe old age, still at work and in possesion of all your buttons, seems to me one of the best ways to go. It wouldn't be so bad, to die in the saddle. I just wish I could get into the saddle. I tell you what, there are days when I can't even find my horse. But that's a story for another day.

And so to work.

--Kate Gallison

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