Monday, December 26, 2005

Not saying hi to David Morrell

For me, David Morrell is one of the two or three best suspense writers of my generation. I don't think I've ever read a first novel as good as First Blood. And he's only gotten better since then.

I'm rereading his novel Long Lost, a perfect novel of suspense. I keep a copy on my Classic shelf.

Given my admiration for the guy, you'd think I'd take any oppotunity to meet him. Well...I went out to a Waldenbooks one Saturday afternoon to intrroduce myself and got about ten feet from him...and froze. I've always felt embarrassed about being me. There's no other way to say it. And all I could think of in that moment was how I'd say the wrong thing or lean on his table of books and knock it over or spill my coffee on his shoes. I faded back.

At the time he lived in Iowa City, about forty-tive minutes from Cedar Rapids. I twice ran into him there and had the same experience. Frozen solid. I once tried to lurch in front of him so I'd be forced to say something. But even the lurch didn't work. I am a late lurcher. By the time I'd angled myself in proper lurch form, he was gone.

A few years later, my wife Carol did a couple of signings with him and found him to be one of the nicest people she'd ever met. She was deeply moved by the way he talked about the young son he'd lost. And his graciousness with mid-list writers.

I think it probably worked out. Mr. Morrell got to meet the far better half of the Gorman marriage, that's for sure. The only thing he might have missed was some world-class lurching.

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