I went away for the weekend, and when I came back my world had changed, and not for the better. I was deeply saddened to hear that Randy Johnson and Tom Piccirilli both passed away.
Randy I knew through his wonderful blog, Not the Baseball Pitcher, and through Facebook. When I first started Pulp Serenade, he was an early supporter, and it was always a pleasure to see his comments. We had similar taste in movies and books, and I could always count on him for a good recommendation. His reviews were refreshingly unpretentious and straight-forward. I liked his style, and I trusted his instincts. He had a wonderful spirit and a sincere love for books and movies, they meant a lot to him and it came across in his writing. His was a warm and positive presence in the online community, it won't be the same without him, certainly not for me.
Tom was one of my favorite writers, and his books moved me in very personal ways, reading them always revealed things to me about myself. His work had a remarkably intimate quality. I remember walking into Partners and Crime in the West Village, and I asked Kiz (one of the owners) what I should be reading. She grabbed The Cold Spot off the shelf and said, simply, "This." Kiz knew my taste, and she was rarely wrong. I trusted her, bought it, and took it home to read. She was right. Two of my favorite books of Tom's are Grave Men and The Last Kind Words. Both have to deal with family and genealogy, and the question of what makes you who you are. Is it in your blood, is it in the way you were brought up, is it your own choice? Is there something inside of you that you can't control. So much of noir has to do with this dilemma of whether we're doomed beyond our control or whether we bring it upon our selves. I loved the way Tom personalized and internalized it, made it about the family, something we can all relate to. Tom brought heart to noir, and with that heart came much aching.
I only ever knew these two men through their words. In emails, blog posts, comments, stories, reviews. Always words. For personal reasons I had to take time away from Pulp Serenade, and in that interim I found myself missing people like Randy and Tom. And now that I'm back, I'll be missing them even more.
My sincerest condolences to all of you who knew Randy and Tom.