As you may have heard, Tom Clancy passed away this week after an illness. The 66-year-old mega-bestseller was the king of an entertainment empire: his techno-thrillers spawned multiple book series, films, and numerous successful video games. Although I wasn’t a regular Clancy reader, I loved the movie version of The Hunt for Red October (despite, or perhaps because of, Connery’s Scotch-Russian accent–Scrussian?).
And even though I wasn’t a rabid Clancy-ite, I still felt a twinge of sadness at the thought of such a literary mainstay’s passing. There’s an extra layer of sorrow when a beloved author (or musician, or any artist) dies–because you realize that the creations from which you’ve drawn so much enjoyment, and which you probably looked forward to every year, weren’t going to continue.
For me, it was the year Dick Francis died. I’m a horse nut, and years ago I discovered British mystery writer and former steeplechase jockey Dick Francis, who tied every book to a facet of the horse world. He published a new book every year, and I came to reliably expect a hardcover under the tree at Christmas, which I would scurry off and read as soon as it was socially acceptable to ditch the family dinner. Towards the end, his books were collaborations with his son, Felix…but finally in 2010, he passed away, and now only the brand lives on. For me, it wasn’t the same once he wasn’t the hand holding the pen.
Are you still mourning the loss of a beloved writer? Who is it, and how do you choose to move on when the books stop coming?
The Hunt for Red OctoberTom Clancy
Clancy's debut novel combines the stakes of a sweeping political thriller with the tension of a locked-room standoff, as two submarine commanders must decide whether to follow orders that could throw the U.S. and Russia into nuclear war.
Whip HandDick Francis
One of Dick Francis's best books, this is the second featuring injured steeplechaser Sid Halley (who first appears in ODDS AGAINST). More detective machismo than horses in this, but Sid's rage and grief over his lost career is poignant and compelling.