A writer passes

I was thinking that I should start reading the work of Tony Horwitz. I was intrigued by early notices of his latest, about Frederick Law Olmstead’s trip through the South before the Civil War. These notices reminded me how interesting his other books look.

Anyway, he’s gone now, at 60 years of age. He left an impressive body of work, but he gives hints that it came at a price. I just reserved his John Brown book from the library. Perhaps Katja and I will stop by the Brown homestead in Lake Placid next month.

WSJ obit.

NYT obit.

Since I’m thinking about writers and death: I learned new things about Bill Buckner, who died a couple of days ago. After a fateful night in 1986, Buckner spent his life in infamy for the grounder that went through his legs. Yesterday I replayed that inning on YouTube. His notoriety seems profoundly unfair: All these years I’ve assumed his error let in both the tying and winning runs.

But no: Relievers Schiraldi and Stanley blew the two-run lead. The score was tied when Mookie Wilson dribbled the grounder that he had a fair chance of legging out anyway.

OK, if Buckner had fielded it cleanly, he might have preserved a tied game, allowing the Red Sox another inning. But that’s not the same as blowing a World Series. It was an unfortunate error, but it was deeply unfair for him to be subjected to so much abuse.

What do writers have to do with Buckner? Why, of course, it’s writers–unimaginative hack writers–who have written the legend of Buckner’s error, reinforcing and reminding and inflating and embellishing.

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