Goodbye Native Son

It was the only “B” I’d ever made in a writing class. He shredded my manuscripts. “Stick to your genre,” he’d scribble on my stories and again on my rewrites. He thought my genre was poetry, would probably have been surprised to learn that I’m a journalist today. He terrified and astonished me, and often I would leave his class so enraged and engaged that I had to spend an hour running or driving aimlessly, fuming and processing before dealing with other humans–and usually, discussing his latest insight with the first human I came across, post-processing. He was upset when a British journalist called him a “leathery, squatty” man on a motorcycle. He wrote about motorcycles, and the skirted women who rode them sans panties. He died on the surgical table and rose to tell the tale. He lived many lives–sadly, this time he was on his ninth. My home state and my alma mater are impoverished without him–Barry Hannah, you will be missed.

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