Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5: Ring Lardner, Seamus Heaney, Sad News

...What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.  That doesn't happen much, though.  I wouldn't mind calling this Isak Dinesen up.  And Ring Lardner, except that D. B. told me he's dead...

Holden has strong opinions about writers.  Early in Catcher we find out that Ring Lardner is one of his favorites.  And, of course, the ultimate test for Holden is whether, when you're done reading a book, you imagine being good friends with its author.

That's a pretty good test.  There are several writers I would put in that category for myself:  Sharon Olds, Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, J. K. Rowling.  Today, I just found out that one of my favorite poets passed away on August 30.  Irish poet Seamus Heaney.  According to Google, he fell down outside a restaurant, entered a hospital to have an operation, and died the next day.  According to Heaney's son, Michael, the poet's last words, texted to his wife of 47 years, were "Noli timere," Latin for "Do not be afraid."

This news has weighed on me most of this evening.  Heaney's work was amazing.  Smart.  Stunning.  Moving.  Important.  His death is a great loss to world literature.  And poetry has lost a great friend.

That's a piece of Saint Marty's mind.

R. I. P. Seamus Heaney

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