Robert Hughes, Gore Vidal, Nora Ephron — this has been a grim summer for writers, and readers. In the case of Vidal and Hughes, it’s marked the loss of two role models and lodestars, writers whose work I followed for instruction as well as entertainment. They did what all great writers do — lead by example — and if my work has any quality at all, it’s partly because I remembered what it was like to have them reach out from a printed page and command my attention. Some artists work that magic with paint, or musical instruments, or physical precision and beauty, but they did it with ink on paper, and anyone who has felt that magic wants to join in its making.
With that in mind, I suggest you download James Wolcott’s essay on Gore Vidal’s passing, then get together with some writer friends, or think about the writer friends you never met in person, but got to know through their work. People who’ve never come within earshot, but whose voices are as clear and familiar to you as your own family.