Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Happy Homebody

I took up the sad task on Sunday of eulogizing genre novelist Ed Gorman, who passed away last Friday at age 74. Today, it was Max Allan Collins’ turn. Writing in his blog, Collins (Better Dead) delivered remembrances of his years-long association with his fellow Iowa author that are both humorous and endearing. I am particularly fond on this section in which he remarks on Gorman’s phobias:
It took me a while to learn that Ed rarely traveled, and that he was in fact something of a hermit. Because we both lived in Iowa, and had writing styles that were not dissimilar, I for a time had the honor of being accused of using “Ed Gorman” as a pseudonym. What a writer that would make me.

“Is it true,” people would ask me, “that you’ve actually met Ed Gorman?” I actually had.

The thing is, being around people made Ed nervous. This still strikes me as strange because he made his pre-writing-career living as an ad man, PR guy and also writer of political speeches (politics being a lifelong interest, even obsession).

Stranger still is how charming and effortlessly social he was on the telephone. Scores of writers are bound to now come forward and say how well they knew him, but admit that they never met him. …

Once, responding to my efforts to get him to a Bouchercon, Ed told me didn’t like driving long distances because he’d once been in a car crash. I asked him why he didn’t fly there. He said he’d also been in a plane crash. I asked him why he didn’t take a train. He said he’d been in a train crash. Asking him why he always took the stairs in tall buildings, he said he’d once been in an elevator when it fell. There’s also a story about an escalator, but you get the drift.

Was he kidding me? I’m not sure. Really I don’t think so. He was a self-described bundle of neuroses, yet as grounded a writer as I’ve ever known. He worked hard and well and fast, and never compromised his craft and art. Now and then he would rail on about some writer whose work he disliked, but never in public, and no one had more generous, enthusiastic things to say about other writers and their work than Ed.
You can, and should, read the whole piece here.

FOLLOW-UP I: Gorman’s hometown newspaper, Iowa’s Cedar Rapids Gazette, has posted its own obituary. It acknowledges Gorman’s “literary success as a mystery and crime novelist and short story writer,” but the most memorable part might be its conclusion, which portrays this author as “an engaging and outspoken figure.”
“We were married for 34 years, and he was still one of the most interesting people I know,” [his wife] Carol Gorman said. “He was very funny, he had quirky tastes and made everyone laugh. Even the people at the oncology department, he loved them all and they loved him.”

[Iowa City author and book reviewer Rob] Cline, who worked at a Cedar Rapids used bookstore years ago, first met Gorman as a frequent customer there—buying new authors, selling his old books and wanting to chat about what he was reading.

“As much as I loved his writing, what I’ll always remember is how much I liked him,” Cline said.
FOLLOW-UP II: Gravetapping blogger Ben Boulden, who knew Gorman both as a colleague and a friend, writes this about the late author:
Ed Gorman was a great writer. It is true he was a great mystery writer. A great western writer. A great suspense, both dark and straight, writer. He was all that, but he was, simply, a great writer. He could write anything and he frequently escaped the genre where he wrote and created something very much like literature. His stories always said something about the human condition, the world we live in. His characters, always vivid, were three dimensional. He never wrote a wholly good hero, or a completely stained villain. He wrote about us—our experience in the world—in stories that were larger than life with players so real we can very nearly see them in our bathroom mirrors.
READ MORE:R.I.P., Ed Gorman,” by Mike Stotter (Shotsmag Confidential); “We’ve Lost Ed Gorman, a Great Friend to Writers,”
by Lee Goldberg.

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