Skip to main content

Assistant Pig-Keeper's Lament

Lloyd Alexander is dead. He passed away on Thursday. Two weeks after his wife of 61 years went. Events like that never fail to make me shiver. Was it the cancer? Or did he just decide, now that she was gone, to go too?

I've spent the past few days grieving, floating from website to website, blog to blog, reading memorials and tributes, soaking up the fellow-feeling out there in the ether. Not that I should have been surprised, but there were so many of us out there whose lives were literally shaped by his work. I lost count of how many of you said, "My sixth grade teacher read every one of the Chronicles of Prydain aloud to us after lunch. He did all the different voices, from Gurgi to Gwystl. I'd never fallen into books like that before. But thanks to them, I have many times since. I think I've read them all 8 times, 9 times, 10? They are among the books of my life." And I think, surely I must know you. Surely you were in my class. For that's exactly the experience I had and it felt so personal and it felt so integral to who I was when I was 11 and who I've become now that I'm 28. No other books feel quite the same to me and Thursday it felt like a piece of my childhood slipped away.

I wrote a letter to Mr. Alexander after running across his address somewhere online. I was 20 and my fingers shook as I wrote my small note telling him how much his books meant to me. How grateful I was for their humor and compassion. It was a typical reader to author letter, but it was the first one I'd ever written and perhaps required a little more in the way of courage than it otherwise might have. A short while later a cream-colored envelope arrived in my mailbox, my name typed in bold black by a manual typewriter. The return address: Lloyd Alexander, Drexel Hill, PA. I fought down the urge to hyperventilate and tore open the flap. It was the most charming letter I'd ever received, thanking me for my missive, responding specifically to my words. He was sure I was one of "the girls who will always be Eilonwy." I smiled through my tears, as I'm doing right now.

I've written to many authors since then, thanking them for their work. Letting them know how much it enriches me. They've all written back, so gracious and engaging. But his is the only one I framed. Before it fell to pieces from being opened and read so many times. It, like my copies of his books, began to show the wear and tear of serial rereading. I pulled them out today, fingering through the pages. It's good to hold them in my hands and remember.
Now that he is gone.

Comments

  1. As you probably guessed I never had the experience of having his books read to me like that. But I do remember when his response came in the mail and how cool I thought it was that he would take the time to hand write it and to responde at all. It was a treasure then and I would veture to say that is even more so now. I am sorry for your loss the world will be lesser for his absence!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You were always there for those "big" moments in my life. That was the summer we lived at the Avenues, wasn't it? I really need to go get it out of storage so the dust and spiders don't get to it.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

$50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

I'm excited today to be giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky reader! This giveaway is sponsored byAppliances Onlineand is open to the US and the UK. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter letting me know what you'd spend your gift card on--books like me (which ones, which ones) or something else you've had your eye on? The giveaway will run one week from today (6/13). Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms of Endearment

Have you ever been reading a book, moving along quite nicely, and then--bam--a character whips out a particular term of endearment that just yanks you right out of the story? It happened to me recently, and I'm sad to say I couldn't recover. I did try. But she just kept using that term and I . . . I had to get the hell out of Dodge. Buh-bye, story. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I'm not saying this is the norm (thank goodness). I can put up with a certain amount of treacly back and forth when it comes to the exchange of terms of endearment, especially if they fit the characters, their background, culture, the tenor of their relationship, etc. And the history of these terms at home and from around the world is often fascinating (at times hilarious). But there comes a point where I can't see past the cheese and/or weird anymore and I do not want to be with these people any longer. Shallow? Perhaps. But it's a very individual thing, isn't it? We a…

Interview with Sara Creasy + Children of Scarabaeus Giveaway!

Today is the release day for Sara Creasy's Children of Scarabaeus--the second book in her wonderful Scarabaeus duology. I'm delighted to be celebrating release day with an interview with Ms. Creasy. I picked up Song of Scarabaeusa couple of weeks ago, fell immediately in love, and set about getting my hands on an ARC ofthe sequel as quickly as possible (you can read my reviews here and here). This is the kind of science fiction I love--character-driven and exciting, set against the background of a fully developed and eerily fascinating world. If you haven't had a chance to pick up these books, now is the perfect time. Please welcome Sara Creasy!  First things first: The Covers. I am kind of a fan of Chris McGrath’s covers, and I love the little touches on these two that make them unique to Edie & Finn’s story. Did you have any input on the covers and what was your reaction upon seeing the first one? Isn’t his work amazing? As soon as I found out he was doing my SONG OF S…