: views from the Hill

Monday, October 27, 2008

RIP Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman has died at age 83.

My favorite memory of him was his appearance as guest at the first fundraiser dinner for (what now is known as) the Foundation for Monterey County Free Libraries back in the early nineties. The Foundation had originally asked Robert Campbell to be guest speaker but Campbell answered (hashhish remembering here) something to the effect that Campbell really wasn't so hot with the public speaking thing. If he had been good at it, Campbell said, he probably would've chosen a vocation other than writing. But he knew this guy. ...

Hillerman signed one of my hardback first editions before the dinner and kept the audience laughing during dinner with his dry wit and self deprecating stories of bloopers he'd made and his life as a writer. Hillerman all-in-all proved to be a generous, charming, raconteur sort of a guy.

Hillerman did a lot for the mystery-writing community and writers in general, a lot for libraries and readers. He earned the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Talking mysteries : a conversation with Tony Hillerman and Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir are excellent introductions to Hillerman the writer and his writing.

Hillerman's writing evoked the Southwest. His mysteries were appreciated by the Navajo nation because of his depictions of and respect for the native culture. The Navajo Tribal Council honored him with its Special Friend of the Dineh award in 1987.

He was one of a kind.


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