Oh, hell...I really loved Barry Hannah, who died this week at 67. He came up last week in conversation with some other writers, and I found myself semi-drunkenly holding forth about the awesomeness of Airships, and very slightly less so that of Bats Out Of Hell, two excellent and highly idiosyncratic story collections. (I've got first editions of both, suckas!)
Hannah was a writers' writer, a guy who often came up in informal chats with fellow scribblers, sometimes as a guilty or obscure pleasure. He wasn't always good, but he was always interesting, and when he was good, he was superb, in a manner unlike anyone else. He was at times very direct, at others hopelessly baroque; his work vacillated between brilliant comic energy and terrifying violence--or perhaps it was both, all the time.
At Montana, when we were there in the nineties, his brief and chaotic professorial stint was still fresh in some memories (a Bowie knife stabbed into a chalkboard? Brandishing a pistol in a rain-drenched car?!?), but he was gone long before we got there, and neither of us ever met him. (I did meet his daughter in a bar in Tuscaloosa once.) But he has loomed large in my imagination, ever since my college pal Brian O'Keefe lent me a copy of Ray in 1990 or so. It's time I caught up on the stuff I haven't read.