Wednesday, October 03, 2012

El Cheapo

It is not a nice thing to call a person you deeply respect. But it is an excellent pseudonym, because my large-hearted iconoclastic cynical skeptic of a great-uncle was not that at all. He was careful about things he thought needed care, but he was always generous with literature of all kinds. He would've got the joke.

I have a shelf of the stuff he used to send me — newspaper clippings, unusual phenomena, and two old volumes of science fiction collected by Robert Conquest and Kingsley Amis. It was these that set me on my path to science fiction hunger.

Great-uncle's growly laugh, precise enunciation and sinister shades concealed a man who thought generously of people and stingily of truth. But when it came to accepting things for which he felt he had sufficient evidence, he went large again.

He was a man of great complexity who saw himself as a simple person. His life was full of tension, incongruity, ambiguity and the liberty of mind. But his spirit resolved it all. When he left this morning at half past seven, I could imagine his first interview with his Maker, and how interesting it might be.

But I could not imagine him gone. I am left with memories instead. I will always remember his pale eyes, alert and intelligent, and the gifts of packaged words that he always sent my way.

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