I can’t believe

I didn’t discover Doug Marlette until now.

His novel Magic Time is  fascinating and not only is it difficult to put down, throughout the day I continually think about the pages I’ve read, anxious to get back to the book.  The man can write!  I was saddened to learn that he was killed in a single car accident in 2007.  Pat Conroy said “You know, there’s a couple of family members I’d rather have lost instead of Doug. And he would have laughed at that. This has been a shock of all shocks.”

Marlette started his cartooning career in 1972 at The Charlotte Observer, and most recently was on staff at the Tulsa World. He won the Pulitzer prize in 1988 for his work at The Observer and the Atlanta Constitution, the same year the Observer won the Pulitzer’s public service award for its work detailing the misuse of funds by Jim Bakker’s PTL television ministry.

At the time of the Pulitzer, Marlette said his biting approach could be traced in part to “a grandmother bayoneted by a guardsman during a mill strike in the Carolinas. There are some rebellious genes floating around in me.”

source: Doug Marlette Obituary article

“Ease up on yourselves. Have some compassion for yourself as well as for others. There’s no such thing as perfection, and life is not a race.” – Doug Marlette, commencement address at Wesleyan University, 2005.

Author interview after publication of The Bridge:

I am writing a novel set in New York and Mississippi in the 1990’s and in the 1960’s civil rights era. The protagonist, Carter Ransom, is a newspaper reporter. As a young white Southerner in the South, Carter gets swept up in the movement for social justice through his friendship with the son of his family’s housekeeper. Along the way he falls in love with a beautiful Jewish girl who came south to help register voters, setting him in conflict with his father, his family and his community.

Snippet from Magic Time:

The day before Katharine Ransom died of cancer, Mitchell had been sitting next to her wheelchair in front of the window, watching the birds with her for what turned out to be her last time.  An eastern grosbeak flitted down to dine on some millet.  The grosbeak was unusual for that part of the world, Katharine explained, and she had never seen one in the yard before.  Mitchell would later describe how he had witnessed the light flare down deep in her exhausted, hollowed-out eyes, and he cherished her delight in her fine new bird species.  At five o’clock the next morning she died in her bed, with him lying awake beside her in the dark, holding her hand.  An hour later, hospice arrived.  Carter, who had flown down from Washington that weekend, sat with his father at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and staring out the window.  As the sun came up and the first light illuminated the backyard, the two of them beckoned Sally to come see an entire flock of eastern grosbeaks flurry down upon the feeders, as if on cue.  it was six o’clock in the morning, exactly one hour after she died.  Mitchell, who was not an especially religious man, would see these rare, wayfaring birds as conveyors of his wife’s spirit.  Staring out the window, he shed tears for the first time since she had been diagnosed with leukemia less than a year earlier.

We are all children in various stages of growing up.
– Doug Marlette

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