Thinking About Aging and Loss

I was reading a feature piece in The New York Times by a man in his 40s who was out getting ice cream with his aunt — something they’d done regularly when he was much younger.

He described his aunt thusly: “Her brown hair had gone mostly gray, but she had every bit of the energy and snappy wit I remembered.”

It annoyed me. My reaction was, “Well, why wouldn’t she?” I mean, gray hair doesn’t mean someone’s not still the same person they always were.

It’s the same kind of attitude that causes reporters to write stories about “grandmothers” doing something that is supposedly unusual for someone their age, such as defending themselves from a mugger.

I know a lot of grandmothers with black belts. Just saying.

I also pick it up in well-meaning statements about “looking after our elders.” In many cases, those elders are doing a great job of looking after the community.

It’s the assumption that an old person who still has “energy and snappy wit” is unusual that gets me. Or, for that matter, the assumption that someone walking with a cane or a walker is no longer the person they used to be.

As I was writing this piece, I saw on social media that Suzy McKee Charnas had died. One person described her reaction to this as “gutted” and that summed up mine as well. Continue reading “Thinking About Aging and Loss”

What the Humans have been Up To

Bright MorningThe humans have been busy working on a book together. This is something we crows have not seen them do before. The book is in honor of someone they knew who died. We do know about honoring the dead.

They call this book Bright Morning, and they have filled it full of stories. Being the resident editor of the Treehouse, I looked it over. There are no stories about crows, but there are some about horses, dogs, and dragons, so that’s all right. At least the humans are thinking about beings other than just themselves.

Here is their announcement about the book, and a picture of the cover. There will be a paper book with a shiny cover next month, they say.

Vonda N. McIntyre preferred to keep her author’s biography short and sweet: “Vonda N. McIntyre writes science fiction.” While true, this modest claim conceals accomplishments that earned her multiple accolades and an enduring place among the most influential fantasy and science fiction writers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Even more important to the authors of this tribute anthology, McIntyre was a kind and generous supporter of other writers. In Bright Morning, eleven career writers of science fiction, fantasy, and other genres share stories of hope in her honor, along with their memories of working with McIntyre. Profits from the anthology will benefit a charity that promotes literacy for children all over the world.

Bright Morning
An Anthology of Hopeful Tales
In Honor of Vonda N. McIntyre

from the Treehouse Writers
edited by Deborah J. Ross

Order Bright Morning from your favorite bookseller


Naming Favorites

A few years ago I heard someone ask Vonda N. McIntyre which of her novels was her favorite. Her answer? “The one I’m working on now.”

It’s possible that she meant that she was most excited about that particular book, the one she finished just before she died. It is a brilliant book.

But I took it more generally to mean that whatever she was working on at the time someone asked that question would be her favorite.

I like that idea, though I suspect it’s rather a romantic one. After all, writers who become known for certain books often find themselves in a position where they have to keep writing them long after they’re sick of the subject.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes so that he could quit writing those stories, but it didn’t work. I suspect strongly that his favorite Holmes story – assuming he hadn’t become so sick of doing the work that he didn’t like any of them by the end – would not have been any of the later ones he wrote.

I’m sure many other authors have felt something similar, though they’ve kept it to themselves since people were paying them to keep writing the same thing. After all, most writers need the money. Continue reading “Naming Favorites”