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Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I wrote a piece last week for the Washington Post that began,

It is hard to know whether to talk about R. A. Lafferty in the past or present tense. He is, as far as I know, still alive, but he is old and infirm and can write no longer. But when Lafferty was writing he was undoubtedly the finest writer of whatever it was that he did that ever there was.

I'll have to rewrite that, alas. R. A. Lafferty (1914-2002)

When I was a teenager I wrote a letter to Lafferty, using an address I found in a library book Guide to Living Writers. It was forwarded to him, and for a year or two we corresponded -- he wrote amazing letters, and I felt really honoured that he wrote them to me. He seemed to think I might be a writer, and he took me seriously, and God knows that helped. I always intended to do an article about him, but I never did, and felt faintly guilty about that until 1996 when John Clute let me write the entry on Lafferty in the Encyclopedia of Fantasy.

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