Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ARTS NEWS: RIP Lillian Jackson Braun

Posting is a little arduous for me because I'm in Israel, so a post or two a day is my limit, and thus I'm going to focus on posting relevant to the things I'm seeing and reading, less responding to things I'm spotting in the blogosphere.

But I do have to briefly comment on the passing of Lillian Jackson Braun, author of The Cat Who... series of mystery books. I read them religiously in High School - the sort of book I would sneak in between reading Nietsche way too early and not understanding it at all.

Her writing came from a place about as antithetical to the sort of work that usually interests me as possible: I normally like reading things with Big Ideas, with high stakes; set in strange worlds with extravagant plots. Asimov, Tolkein, Douglas Adams, The Redwall series, books of philosophy, these were my usual playthings.

So what drew me in to these books, set in the world's seemingly most boring rural world, filled normal people and mysteries that seemed so pedantic in comparison with the sprawling masses of the universe?

Simply: the books created a home. The main character, Qwilleran, was the sort of person I could imagine growing up to be. Like me, he was just a kind of cynical but nice dude who wants to be a reporter. His moustache was the reason I grew my first moustache -- it symbolized a thoughtfulness and caring to me that I absorbed from the pages of her books.

Her books spoke to me on a level of simplicity: characters who were so real and so close at hand that it was beguiling, involving, and a great way to feel at home in a world so small you felt like you could touch every part of it.

Goodbye, and thank you for everything.