Here it is Friday again, and I am stuck for something to blog about, but the entire week a chat group I am involved with has been talking about the passing of Tony Hillerman and another author, Elaine Flinn. I know both through their books but unfortunately did not know either personally. I will say, however, that at any time I hear of the passing of an artist, an actor, a muscian, a doer of good deeds, and a writer, I feel a deep personal loss, and I don't exaggerate the sense of loss I feel for the Earth...for the world...that disturbance in the universe that Obi Wan Kenobi of Star Wars fame speaks of.
Not that all life isn't important, but writers are purveyors of entertainment and enlightenment, and so often they are also purveyers of truth and like the best of our comedians in a sense, the voice of our consciience -- as most good stories are about doing the wrong thing and doing the right thing, good vs. evil, smart vs. dumb.
Most certainly Tony Hillerman was a storyteller first but I am willing to bet that his many millions of raders would agree that his stories depicted the consequences of our actions, the consequences of greed and theft and deviousness and the consequences of good-heartedness, a positive belief in right, and he sent these "messages" adroitly through his fiction. The irony of it is that people think fiction--at least many folks do--think it frivolous, when in fact it is about life and death and every huge and enormous passion in between--vengeance, love, hatred, wonder, you name it.
Elaine Flinn was about the same kind of work --entertaining and informing. Writers either have a special place in Heaven, in my book, or they "write" themselves a space. I recall as a child in junior high school deciding that being a writer was the most noble profession of all. I believed that then, perhaps naively, and you know what? I have not lost that naivete. Books inform us, stories tell us who we are at bottom. Novels and mysteries absolutely touch on our best and our worst qualities; they condemn and they uplift us, often in the same paragraph. Such men as Tony Hillerman and ladies as Elaine Flinn act as a gauge and a focus for all who pick up their books and read. Authors, so far as I am concerned, are the voice we give to reason, and the light we shine on insanity and obsession and the human condition.
Those who devote their lives and their waning years to such an effort we can only applaud, admire, and aspire to.
Robert W. Walker
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