Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Musings: Author Deaths


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I'm sure by now many of you know that Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series (and many, many other things) died last week.  I'm actually a little surprised at how upset I was to hear about it.  I think part of it is founded on a personal matter - my uncle was diagnosed with a very rare form of early-onset dementia.  He died very young, and I tend to avoid any books/movies with Alzheimer's or dementia because it upsets me.  So I imagine a lot of that is coming into play with Terry Pratchett.

But it's also really weird when you've just found something you really, really love, and when the creator dies...it feels a bit like you've missed the chance to get to know them.  Which is...weird.  Because I can still get to know him the way I would have when he was alive - I plan to read pretty much all of his books at some point, and him being alive has nothing to do with it.  I likely never would have met him or had any contact with him at all, so it's not like I actually would have a personal relationship with him.  And yet...I still feel that way.  Does any of that make sense?  And if I, a very new fan, feel this way I can't imagine how his long term fans are feeling.

And it got me thinking...how will I react when my favourite authors die?  Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley are both in their 60's now.  And I imagine I'm going to be absolutely devastated, because as I've mentioned before, they really have shaped my life in a way. It feels a bit like I grew up with them - not as close or important as family, but kind of like that kooky uncle you don't ever see.  They're still IMPORTANT even though I've never met them. And...how do you explain to normal people that you're really upset because some author you've never met has died?  Because I can't imagine if I found out that I would just be a little sad and move on...it's not something I do well at haha.  It's all a bit morbid and I feel a bit weird mulling all of this over, but there you are. Death makes me contemplative in all the uncomfortable ways.


12 comments:

  1. I think part of it is knowing that there won't be any more books.

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  2. My boss is a HUGE Pratchett fan and we were talking about his death this morning. I guess mourning an author would be like mourning a musician you have neveer met. One that has had had a heavy impact on your life. I was devastated when Johnny Winter died.

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  3. That's true, that's definitely likely to be part of it. Knowing there's now a finite number of books I can read by any author.

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  4. That's so true! I guess it's weird for me, because as a classical musician 99% of the composers I feel connected to are already dead. And the musicians themselves I'm either colleagues/friends with, or they're my mentors so it's still a bit different. But I can totally see that being the case.

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  5. Because good books - great books - can touch us in ways that people rarely can. Because some books are beautiful things, that can make us laugh or cry or dream...Those who don't love books just don't feel this way, but people who do love books can't help but feel close to the writers who've, as you put it, shaped their lives. :)


    Thinking about Robin McKinley passing away just makes me feel sad and a little lost. I understand how you feel. Oh! - this is what I mean - we don't need someone to be physically present to hear them say "I understand. I have been there".


    But that's my own thoughts and feelings. If I've misread what you wrote, I may have been far off base!

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  6. I can completely understand where you're coming from here. Two years ago the first author that I ever said was my favorite passed away. I never really connected to an author over many books before - usually the authors I liked only wrote a couple then kind of disappeared or I just never liked the books that much. It's difficult to explain to non-fans. You're right that you'd probably never meet them, but it's nice knowing they're still out there, coming up with new adventures.


    In a way, it's not just the author that died, but the characters and, in the case of Pratchett, the world that the author created. Unless, of course, you get ghostwriters or the like, which sometimes (most of the time) that just makes things worse.

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  7. I am heavy into traditional Blues and I have a feeling that experiencing loss with that is going to be a regular thing with the older ages of many of the musicians.

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  8. I didn't even think of that...with music there's definite revolutions that go on so that musicians in shared genres are usually all around the same age. That's going to be rough :-/


    I haven't listened to much on the Blues front. For some reason I didn't fall in love in high school and I've never really gone out of my way to listen to it, which I need to remedy. After all, if I'm liking bluegrass and more subgenres of jazz (neither of which are things I ever saw myself as liking), the likelihood of me liking blues now is much higher.

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  9. Yes! That's exactly it! And it's just not something you could possibly explain to someone who hasn't experienced that. It's a whole different level of connecting and understanding (and one of the reasons that makes books so, so amazing). It's cool that they can reach across space and time and completely just connect with you. So it's lovely that you have these pieces of a person long after their gone...but still really upsetting when you actually lose them if that makes sense

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  10. It's surprising actually - I thought that most of my favourite authors were the same...but the biggies: Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and JK Rowling have all written a fair amount. Tamora Pierce easily has 40 books I'd say, and Robin around 20? But it does feel like when an author dies they take some of the untold adventures/characters with them. (And I have to say that ghostwriters...I feel a bit bad for them. It's difficult to pretend to be someone else and write for them! But I can't say that I can think of any ghostwriters who's stories worked for me haha)

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  11. "When the creator dies...it feels a bit like you've missed the chance to get to know them."


    YES! That is so spot on. Ever since I found out the great L. A. Meyer died, I've been trying to explain to my husband why I'm so sad about it, even though I never met the man. It's like as long as he was alive, there was that magical possibility that some day I'd get to meet him, hold a conversation with him about his books...and now that possibility is gone for good.

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  12. That's exactly it!! It makes me so happy that it seems like a lot of bloggers feel this way, because people definitely were not getting why I was in a bit of a funk when I found out the news about Terry Pratchett.

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