Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jay Bennett (1912–2009)

I recently learned that the writer Jay Bennett died last year at the age of ninety-six. He was the author of the novel Deathman, Do Not Follow Me (1968), a book that I read and reread endlessly when I was twelve or thirteen.

In 2003 I happened to think of the novel, found a copy in a library, and found that many details and bits of dialogue — a description of a girl putting on her glasses to read in class, a conversation about Bob Dylan — were still lodged in my memory. I soon bought my own copy of Deathman, an ex-library copy. (An ex-library copy is to my mind the best way to read a book from one’s youth.) I wrote Mr. Bennett a letter and received, via his son, a reply. I felt as though I had paid a longstanding debt.

Wikipedia has a detailed article about Jay Bennett.

A related post
Out of the past (On going back to the books of one’s youth)

comments: 5

Pete said...

2009 was a tough year for artistic Jay Bennetts:


Though the writer obviously lived to a ripe old age, unlike the musician.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, the loss of ex-Wilco Jay Bennett was deeply sorrowful. He lived right down the block from my daughter, as we learned only after his death.

Daughter Number Three said...

I saw that book as a young person, but for some reason never read it. I will have to get a copy. We should all write to authors we loved as young people.

I agree that ex-libs are the best!

Michael Leddy said...

Daughter Number Three, I’m so happy to have such a like-minded reader. I’d like to read about your experiences along these lines, if you write about them.

Elaine said...

I always thought I'd like to write to E.B. White--_Charlotte's Web_ was a gift from my great aunt on my 9th birthday, and I read, reread, rereread it. I read it aloud to all of my classes, I read it aloud to my own children. And when I had to write a letter of condolence to the husband and sons of my friend and co-author, I quoted the last two lines of the book.

Wish I had not left it too late.