A couple of years ago I came upon the blog Collecting Children's Books, by Peter Sieruta. If you have never seen Collecting Children's Books, follow the link NOW -- you have hours and hours of enjoyment ahead if, like me, you have been reading children's books (including YA) all your life and can recall your first M.E. Kerr and Ursula K. LeGuin, plus you know your Newbery Winners back to Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon, and you just plain love the look and feel of books.
Peter published every Sunday and looking through my blogger reading lists for his posts on Monday was a highlight of the week. His posts were long, well-illustrated and fascinating, a round-up of contemporary gossip, looks back at the past, and personal stories of books that had influenced him. We were contemporaries and reading his blogs I frequently felt the thrill of similar memories. I know he must have worked very hard on his posts (I know how hard I work and mine don't come off half as well!) because they were so elegant and funny, flowing so neatly from one subject to the next. I commented on his posts...sometimes...very cautiously. Once he quoted of my remarks in a subsequent post and I went through the virtual equivalent of blushing mightily.
This morning on Facebook, late as usual because I tend to banish electronic communication over the weekend, I discovered that Peter had died. Last week he had posted about breaking his ankle tripping on the stairs (I am so glad now that I wrote a response to that post) and, according to his brother John, he had difficulty breathing on Saturday night and collapsed before EMS arrived. It may have been a blood clot. It doesn't matter, really. There's a strangeness about sudden death. It makes me think of the German writer W.G. Sebald, who died in a car accident, in a scene not unlike something that might have happened in one of his own novels. One minute here, the next minute gone. As a Christian, the idea of death is not bleak to me, although for those left behind the loss is grievous. I think of Peter as simply somewhere else, in another world. But Lord, I will miss him in this one.
Other tributes to Peter at Fuse #8, Educating Alice and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.