Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rest in Peace ~ Robert Ellis Gordon

 A note from Robert Gordon's Editor, Zac Hill

It is with tremendous sadness that I learned of the recent passing of Robert Ellis Gordon, my great friend and mentor.

For my entire life I have yearned to write. As a precocious kid however I had always been too quick to bask in the praise that well-meaning people heaped upon me. I became entitled. I became spoiled. I refused to learn. I refused to grow, instead defaulting to an unearned and alien superiority.

Robert saw through all that. My first meeting with him obliterated any pretenses I would dare bring to the table. He had zero tolerance for bullshit and made very clear that if I wanted to mature in my writing I must eradicate my pride. His patience with me over the course of that process has shaped the whole of me. I will owe him forever.

Gradually, we began to work together. For six months I sat with him on his coffee-stained carpet late into the night poring through every word of Humping Credenzas with the Late Bobby Kennedy, his seminal work. Through spasms of pain he would dictate sentences, pausing to gasp, and I would type a line, delete it, type a line again. Eventually there became a novel. We read every word aloud. When something was off, he fixed it. Only once we managed to read the entire book cover-to-cover without a single interjection could he allow himself to send it in. Let it never be said that the labors of the mind bespeak no toil.

From the beginning I knew Robert was fatally ill. The caprice of his lucidity and the intensity of his ire strained our relationship. Dealing with this is the burden of we who live. He wanted nothing more than to be free from the pain that consumed him, the flares that stormed his brain. At that he has now triumphed. He believed in heaven. I know he's there. I hope he's here.