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October 2nd, 2013

R.I.P., Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy has died.

Clancy was more a fact of my 1980s reading life than later, but being in a Navy family and having a Clancy fan for a dad, I was aware of him early. From the late Eighties to 1990 I read his three early big ones: The Hunt For Red October (in the Naval Institute Press edition -- my parents still have that), Patriot Games, and my personal favorite of the three, The Cardinal of the Kremlin. I liked how big Kremlin felt: it seemed genuinely earth-affecting.

Tom Clancy is a good lesson in sticking with it. Red October was the third novel he'd started, but the first he finished, back in his days when he worked in insurance. Before that, he'd started Patriot Games; before that, he started what years later would become his John Clark novel Without Remorse. But he got Red October out of him, and since it was a big success (and the inspiration for the damn solid 1990 film), he had the chance to show he could keep doing it. Which he did.

I like that one of the things Clancy and I would've had in common is, of all things, a fondness for Kevin Smith's film Dogma. He liked it enough to write a letter to Smith. He opened it with "I'm Tom Clancy. I do books." Smith was both delighted and humbled. I've heard from multiple people that Clancy was a thoughtful, congenial, modest person.

And, once again, 66 no longer feels old. It no longer felt "old" to me starting several years ago.

Rest in peace, Tom Clancy.