I just rec’d the news that my friend, the great writer and strange man, Neal Barrett, Jr., has died.
My first reaction, on receiving the email from Kip Stratton, president of TIL, was this:
That’s terrible news. I was already depressed today, so this is the icing on the cake. But I guess I can get myself together somehow, because I can hear Neal in my head saying, “Cheer up shithead, at least you’re not dead. On the other hand, it’s pretty cool out here. See around.”
The above photo was borrowed from a profile about Neal in the Austin American Statesman.
Well, I could write more, like, give you some anecdotes about things Neal said or did when we were hanging out a lot a few years ago, me and Tom Garner, James Crumley, Dick Holland, and the other guys in the gang when Tom would load us up in his Lincoln Town Car and haul us out to Lockhart for barbecue… like when they brought me a big plate of ribs and brisket from Smitty’s when I was on chemo after having my mouth and neck overhauled, and I was down 50 pounds, skin and bones, and I took one bite and said, Wow, boys, thanks, I’ll try to eat more later, and their faces fell down so far… or the day that Neal turned 70 and he said, Wow, 70, what’s that about??? Anyway, here’s the facts.
PS, Nobody wrote about Billy the Kid like Neal. I’ll scan his Billy the Kid story later and share it with you, if you promise to buy one of his books.
Dear TIL Members:I’m saddened to report that Neal Barrett Jr. died on Sunday. He was 84 years old.Barrett was inducted into TIL in 1999 and won a TIL award for his novel, Interstate Dreams, the following year. As that novel proved, he was a gifted literary writer — who could be extremely funny. He tended to work in genre fiction, although he twisted and bent the genres to meet his artistic goals. He wrote all sorts of novels — Westerns, science fiction, fantasy, sometimes combining genres — and enjoyed a devoted following. He published around 50 books, 20 or so under his own name. He also used ten noms de plume. He even wrote two Hardy Boys mysteries under the publisher’s house name of Franklin W. Dixon. He was known for mentoring a number of writers, including our own Joe Lansdale, who considered him a close friend. Barrett won a number of other awards in addition to the TIL award, including the Nebula and the Hugo. In 2010, he was named Author Emeritus of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Born in San Antonio, he grew up in Oklahoma City, but called Austin home for many many years. Upon learning of his death, Joe tweeted, “The Great Neal Barrett has died. Great person and writer.” An apt assessment if ever there was one.Here’ s a link Joe forwarded:KipW.K. (Kip) StrattonTIL President
A link to a Todd Wolfson photo gallery from our United Sounds of Austin Show, Jan 11, at the Moody.
One more link: Advance tickets to my Lou Reed Tribute Show at Cactus Cafe Feb. 1 are now on sale.