Tuesday, November 22, 2011

“A Man of Great Enthusiasms”

Dick Adler on vacation in Venice, Italy

(Editor’s note: Last week, when we announced the passing of critic Dick Adler at age 74, we also invited his son Dan, who lives in San Francisco, to contribute a few short thoughts on his father to The Rap Sheet. Following this last weekend’s memorial service for friends and family in Arcadia, California, Dan sent us the note below.)

Richard Adler, my dad, was a man of great enthusiasms. He loved music, movies, food, and books--the last particularly, and in the later years of his life, crime fiction most of all. He spoke often and fondly of The Rap Sheet and its cronies, and so thank you for the pleasure that you gave him.

He died in the early morning on November 11--Veterans, Armistice, or Remembrance Day, whichever you prefer. He was drawn to stories of people struggling against their circumstances and admired the fortitude of those in the service, so the day was appropriate. He had been sick a long time with many complications from diabetes, and he beat several of them against all known odds. Heart disease finally won, and he said, to our surprise, “I just can’t do it again.” He went peacefully, and he was ready.

When he liked something you would know about it. Books came in from all the corners of the world and filled his office, his bedroom, the hallway, elsewhere. Somehow he seemed to read them all--this one’s fun, this is great, take it. If he didn’t like something, he’d tell you precisely why--he respected the craft, and the writer, enough for that, at least. His favorite thing was to find and herald something new. A new voice with promise became his project.

Family and friends, including some of you good people, sang his praises and got soppy this past weekend, in a manner he would have favored. He was a fan and critic to the end. So keep your writing sharp, because he’s probably still reading it.


pattinase (abbott) said...

A very nice tribute. He will be missed.

Gary Phillips said...

Wonderful, Dan. I didn't know your dad all that well, but always enjoyed his company when he and some of the other mystery writers got together.