RIP Rob Holdstock

Rob and Sarah together
Rob and Sarah together

At 4 o’clock this morning Rob Holdstock passed away.

He had been in intensive care since the 18th of November when he collapsed due to an E. coli infection.

Sincere sympathies to his partner Sarah Biggs and both their families.

Rob was one of the best fantasy writers of his generation, and a man with a huge appetite for life. There was nothing he liked better than the company of good friends, a cracking meal, drink and laughter.

His departure at only 61 years old is a tremendous loss.

He will be greatly missed.

173 Comments

  1. I am absolutely shattered. I had only just now reconnected by e-mail with this dear man, whom I knew since 1970, and had lost touch with. I recently re-read those of his works I had on my shelf and was struck all over again by their quality, and ordered a lot of mssing ones. And found his website, wrote him and we had just exchanged hello-there e-mails at long last and this is just too awful. He was just about the most tactful, most generous and pleasantest person I have ever known, and I was so happy to be in touch again. I’ll try to be glad that I had a chance to write him a fan letter at long last. What the hell HAPPENED? Oh, dear, oh dear. My sympathy to his lady and family.

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  2. Rob, along with Chris Evans, gave me my first pro short story sale, for the Other Edens anthology, and in fact put me up at his place when I came down from Glasgow to read that same story at the World Fantasycon in 1988. On the occasions that our paths crossed, he was always kind and jovial and encouraging to me. Such a sad loss, but it is said that when we lose someone that we cherish we should do our best to sing their song, now that they`re no longer here to sing it themselves. That’s what I’ll try to do. Sincerest condolences to Sarah and Rob’s family.

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  3. I’m very saddened to hear about Rob’s death. We were fannish friends back in the early ’70s when I lived in the Thames Valley and pubbed my ish and went to the Globe. I remember him as the Tin Fan in the Tynecon production of “To Oz” so long ago; and I took (and still take) pleasure in seeing his name on bookcovers. He was good writer and a good person, and I’m proud to have known him.

    My condolences to Sarah and Rob’s family.

    –Sam

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  4. I was shocked to hear of his passing. His writing was an inspiration and raised the bar for fantasy writers. He will be sorely missed, both as a person and as an exceptional writer.

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  5. I am completely taken aback to hear this news. To be taken at such a relatively young age is indeed tragic.

    I have enjoyed all Robert’s books for many years. He had a great and unique talent and will be very sadly missed.

    My condolences to all his friends and family.

    May he rest in peace.

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  6. We’re lost for words and deeply moved and saddened by our friend Robert Holdstock’s sudden departure from this world…we’ve just received the bad tidings that the great writer passed away on Sunday and …I was re-reading his last mail which he sent to Jenny and me and it’s just so hard to comprehend that this is merely an echo of him still living inside our computer.This funny charming creative poëtic man has departed these realms forever…
    Those who are left behind have the hardest part to play,we wish Sarah, his wife and family and friends the strength and courage to survive the cold of the coming winter.
    As for us..so much remains unsaid…so much remains unanswered… His world has become a part of our lives and we have become a part of his world…
    May his soul forever dwell in the primal forest he described so well…
    we’ll carve runes of remembrance in the sacred place for you, Rob,and we’ll honour you in song… journey on.

    Steve, Jenny and Omnia grieves for you

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  7. Oh dear, it’s shocking. So young and such a great bloke. He and I had fallen out of contact but I hope he knew I liked and admired him no less. My condolences to Sarah and to all those who knew him. A brilliant writer; a good man.

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  8. I was so sorry to read this news in Ansible today. When I first met Rob (Worldcon 79 I think) I was taken by his vivacity and when I discovered he was also a very good writer, I liked him even more.

    My deepest sympathy to Sarah and to Rob’s legion of friends.

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  9. I first met Rob in around 1989, and immediatewly felt as if I had known him forever – he had that knack of making everyone around him feel so much at ease.

    The image that remains is that ‘ever present’ smile – and one of the most funny, generous and likeable people I have have known. His opinions on Dim Sum will remain with me for ever.

    We shall all miis him… there are just not enough words.

    All love and thoughts are with Sarah and family.

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  10. The news about Robs death is truly heartbreaking the whole Mythago wood series has been a favorite of mine and friends since publication and as young people we spent an inordinate amount of time scouring the Gloucester countryside searching in vain for those fantastic places, my deepest condolences go out to Sarah and family.

    Rest in Peace Robert although i know deep down you’ve found the entrance.

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  11. I’m very sorry to read about Rob’s passing. I never met the man but from all accounts he sounds like he was a fine fellow, a strong writer and excellent fun to be around. My best wishes go to his friends and family at this difficult time.

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  12. We loved him so much and are grateful to have spent the evening with Rob and Sarah in October.

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  13. I am so sorry to hear this horrible news. I have been raving about Mythago Wood since I first read it nearly twenty five years ago. My first copy fell apart years ago, I had read it so many times. Rob was such an original writer, and it’s so sad to think there will be no more.

    Deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

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  14. I am deeply sorry to read about Robert’s passing. I am very shocked because I only discovered his books this weekend. I was wandering through Waterstones and was drawn to the cover of Mythago Wood. Since buying it I have loved every page and now look forward to reading the rest of Robert’s work. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends. God bless you at this time.

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  15. So sorry to hear this. My condolences to Robert’s family. He wrote some of the most beautiful, bewitching, and disturbing books I have read. He will be missed.

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  16. I first met Robert when he married my sister- in- law some 40 years ago; and yes he did have a profound effect on me: by his personality, his knowledge, not just of science fiction, but of life,
    He was the person who introduced me to Fandom.
    We have not been in touch for many years, life seems to get in the way.
    I shall surely miss him from afar.
    Till we meet again, my brother

    Love Frank

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  17. Such unbelievably sad news.
    Rob and I only infrequently bumped into each other but when we did his rather old-fashioned gusto for life, his almost-innocence (so it seemed to me)…..was such a huge breath of fresh air. His big, bear-like presence and sheer joy of life, people and the world that surrounds us was totally infectious. We first met back in the mid/late 70’s – working on a book together (Tour Of the Universe) and immediately hit it off. It’s to my now eternal regret that I’d never got round to inviting Rob and Sarah down to my neck of the woods.. a plan we always seemed to have on hold but never realised. We were exactly the same age to within a few months..which makes the fact of his passing all the more shocking.
    I’ll remember with delight the few times we did share, strolling around the town of Chotebor in the Czech Republic, making slightly mischievous gossip about people we knew before moving on to our shared passion for the music of Vaughan Williams..and a hundred other topics. Meeting up in Nantes at the annual sf Festival there..him then in one of his hyperactive, dashing hither and thither modes..but so eager to provide entertainment to the adoring audience in the way that Rob uniquely did.
    A truly lovable man without the tiniest hint of malice or bad-feeling about him.
    I wish I’d painted more covers for his books…but I did create a cover he pronounced himself very pleased with – for The Fetch – back in 1991, and more recently a re-issue of Mythago Wood for SFBC..what a privilege. The best fantasy novel I ever read.
    Lots of little tales to tell…
    I’m still finding it hard to take in the fact that I shan’t see him again.
    Sue and I both send our deepest sympathy to Rob’s lovely partner, Sarah.

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  18. It’s dreadfully sad for us that it has taken Rob’s death to make us realize the extent to which we need him to be alive. We’ve been out of touch pretty well since Clare and I left England, 21 years ago, and I now wish very much that we had kept up. Rob was absolutely central to my fannish days in the 1970s. He was funny, generous, relaxing to be with, and slightly mad (as were most of his fannish friends). His ability to adopt wild enthusiasms was infectious and good for all of us. At a time when ratfandom had a bit of a reputation for malevolent personal attacks, Rob was always the exception. He was too kind-hearted to play the game.

    Clare and I particularly remember crisp weekend mornings in Epping Forest, where six or eight of us would often ride rental horses for a couple of hours. Rob very often in the lead, though he was far from being the best rider. Horse riding in a forest, Rob made us feel, was a natural and archetypal fannish activity. I guess it may well have led him directly to Mythago Wood.

    I hope you see this Sarah. Sorry we haven’t spoken for so long, and especially sorry now.
    All our love, Peter and Clare

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  19. Co za strata! Jego sposób myślenia o mitach był wyjątkowy i głęboki.

    What a loss! His way of thinking about myths was unique and deep.

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  20. This is just sooo sad. Rob, along with Chris Evans, were some of the first fans/writers we got to know on our move to London in 1975, and later through the BSFA when they ran Focus. We saw Rob again this millenium when we had Chris Evans as Guest of Honour at Seacon, and apart from the grey hairs on both heads, it was as if the intervening years had never happened.

    It’s always the best which go first.

    Have fun up there Rob!

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  21. Today I’ve read about this tragedy at the Omnia’s page and I’m still in shock, I can’t understand how could this happen. I wish to his family, friends and readers the strength to survive that sad year, and hope that he’ll have a goog journey through all fantastic woods created by him.
    My deepest sympathy to Rob’s beloved lady.

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  22. Rob will be sadly missed by family, friends and fans all over the world. He was too young to have left us. Rob was a great writer, a brilliant ambassador for our genre and one of the finest souls it has ever been my pleasure to meet.

    I met Rob on a number of occasions and conversed on email too, particularly around the launch of the Gemmell Awards about which he cared deeply. He was unfailingly positive, funny, always insightful and generous with ideas and offers of time.

    Rob’s death hurts us all but my thoughts are with his family. I only hope that reading the wonderful comments left here brings some comfort. Rob was universally loved and that is something to be treasured.

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  23. Death is always a sad thing. Sometimes it is just unbelievably sad. I guess you realize how much you appreciate someone when you understand how much you’ll miss him.
    The first and last time I met Robert, was at Epinal in 2004 after a few months of intense correspondence upon the translation of his complete short stories, published by Gilles Dumay. We had a nice time together, he bought me a beer and took a picture of me, my wife and my young daughter, and sent it over to me by email a few days later. I remember him watching at the people and saying something like “I should have started writing earlier, this is so much fun”. This is just so sad to realize that he is no longer here and that I’ll never have a chance to meet him again, and I’m so sorry for Sarah and both families. See you in Gwenwed, Robert, I owe you a beer, remember.

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  24. Rob was a friend from the early 1970s, although we had lost touch more recently. I remember a writer with a unique imagination and a person with a warm, enthusiastic, vibrant personality. As I recall it being said at a party in those long ago days, when Rob was doing something energetic with a newel post: “If Robert Holdstock did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.” Reinvention will be impossible and his passing leaves a gap.

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  25. Rob was one of the loveliest men I have ever met. Always kind and smiling. What a wonderful man and writer.

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  26. Very sad, Enjoyed your books in my youth and still re-read them – I will go and look for ‘Eye Among the Blind’ now. Farewell Robert and sympathy to all.

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  27. I have just learnt this terrible news and I am immensely shocked and saddened. I met Rob and Chris Evans in Birmingham at the Novacon in 1981, and I took an immediate liking to them both. I have not seen Rob for some years now, but I was privileged to know him. When I was offered the job of working for Arthur Clarke as his secretary, Rob was one of the first people I called to share my news with, and he was delighted for me. He was a lovely man – charismatic and generous, with a ready wit but never malicious, a pleasure to converse with, to have a drink and a laugh with. Our lives have been enriched by knowing Rob; but we are diminished by this awful, untimely loss. My heartfelt sympathy to you, Sarah – and to the family.

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  28. Like many of you out there, I too, only recently stumbled across this man and his works… such sadness to have lost such a talent and voice. I wish his family well and God bless. I can only hope that his creations and legacy live on, and that this site does not simply pass into quiet oblivion. For those of you who knew this man and his works, I envy you. For those of us who have just stumbled across Robert and his works… I hope that those who hold such knowledge and works pass them along to those of us following after. Much sympathy’s again, to those who loved and cherished him.

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  29. I wish my heartfelt condoleances to Sarah and all his relatives and friends. The mythagowood novels have been companions since my teens. I have been deeply influenced by their dreamlike quality and inspriation. Mr Holdstock, Rest in peace.

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  30. I’ve only just heard about Rob – courtesy of old and mutual friend John Jarrold – and like everyone else I’ve spoken to my initial reaction is shock and a deep sense of loss.

    I first met Rob – like so many others – back in the 1970s, when he was a key member of the Pieria writers’ group. At the time he was getting published in several fan magazines, but was also getting published professionally, though some of the work was essentially that of a ‘jobbing writer’ (which none of us would have turned down, either!) I’ll never forget his novelisation of a particularly lame werewolf film, which produced such immortal lines as ‘Good ‘eavens, zis man is seriously ‘urt – we must get ‘im to the Sacre Bleu ‘ospital at once!’

    As a group, Pieria enjoyed and fed back on the early drafts of ‘Eye among the Blind’ and Rob’s very first visits to Mythago Wood. I owe him a great personal debt for his enthusiasm, interest and support for my own first novel, ‘The Dragon in the Stone’ – and like everyone who knew him, I found him warm, generous, lively, and just a little larger than life.

    I shall miss him very much – and Sarah, my deepest sympathies to you at such a very difficult time.

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  31. Sad and shocked to hear one of the Greats has died. Loved his forest tales and the breadth of his imagination in the telling. No doubt Robert is now exploring those woods, on the other side. I look forward to reading “Avilion” and probably re-reading the rest of the Mythago cycle. His books have made him immortal, and he will live forever where Earth tales are told.

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  32. I’d like to send my condolences to Rob’s family and friends. Mythago Wood captured my imagination like no other book, to the extent I still think of it whenever I’m in woodland. The next time I’m wandering in the country I’ll look out for him.

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  33. It is with great sadness that I heard the news from mum that Robert had passed.

    Mum would often mention Robert in her phone conversations to me in Canada, and she always described him as a warm, kind, and personable man, whom she and dad had great respect for and felt was like one of the family. I am so very sorry I never got a chance to meet him.

    I know mum and dad are very shocked and deeply sadden by the news, and will be attending his funeral along with my brother.

    I send my heartfelt condolences to you, Sarah, and to Robert’s family.

    Celestina, Victoria, BC, Canada (Anna and Mario’s daughter)

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  34. This news has been completely devastating. I still can’t take it in. My heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Sarah and his family

    As everyone has said, Rob was the most lovable, good-hearted man you could ever hope to meet. The first time I met him – at some publishers’ lunch thing that my agent took me to in the mid-eighties – he talked to me all afternoon and that’s how he was, friendly and interested in everyone. We met at many conventions over the years and he ranks as one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And I loved his books. He was such a big part of my ‘formative’ years as a writer that it feels as if… I don’t know, as if a vital link’s been ripped out of me that held everything together.

    I remember Rob as having a generous, happy vitality about him that seemed indestructible. It seems so wrong, so unfair, so desperately sad that he’s gone. He was a wonderful writer and a wonderful man. I’ll always try to imagine him deep in the ancient woodlands he loved so much. He will always be alive in his books and in our happy memories of him.

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  35. I wish I could have met this man of the First Forest. He was an interpreter of Underworld geography…a Storyteller out of myth. His Ryhope books and the Celtika series sparkle with intelligence and immense, beautiful imagination. But their true power comes from his ability to enter deep into the earth and draw upon the most ancient of roots. He brought the Land of Britain to life like no other author, poet, or scientist has done before. This gives his tales the ring of truth, like an ancient bronze bell lying at the bottom of a sacred well.

    Say only that he crossed over the Oldest River, and came safely into the Hidden Land…

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  36. I had the privilege of meeting Rob at some of the many conventions I attended.
    A Light has been dimmed in this world, He Will be missed.

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  37. Ah, that’s such sad news. Funny, or not, I was only thinking about Rob about a week ago!! Seriously. I was going to contact him, see what he was up to.

    I met him about 10 years ago, when he was a judge for the Library of Avalon poetry contest in Glastonbury. We all TOTALLY adored him!! My old boss, Keith just passed on the news.

    Love connects us all, doesn’t it? We all really loved him and were honoured to have had him come judge for us. He was a very lovely guy, and a great writer!

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  38. Still stunned by the news. I last spoke to Rob shortly before he was taken ill, and he was full of life, as usual, excited about his work in progress.

    I can’t believe there’ll be no more long chats about Spain, and cooking paella; and the endearing ways of cats; or the pain of the writing process and what a bummer it is to grow old. More unbelievable – no more stories, no more books, from that wonderful, fertile imagination.

    My thoughts and love go out to Rob’s family, particularly Sarah and his mother.

    Rob, you were – are – a great talent, a dear friend and a lovely guy. I will miss you very much. I will light a candle for you here in Avalon, and have a few beers in your memory.
    See you at the Crossing Place.

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  39. Dear Sarah, words are small comfort in this darkest of times. Nonetheless heartfelt sympathy to you and Rob’s family and friends, you have much to remember. I was touched by Rob’s dedication of Avilion to you and hope that the words will enfold and embrace you now.

    Ah, Robert! Damm indeed! This was not your time yet, but sometimes choices are not best made, nor ours to make. You’ve stepped off the well beaten track onto the road less travelled far too soon. Journey well; no doubt you can hear the keening cries as we mourn your departure as much love and affection follow you. Have fun on the journey as you encounter all the different versions of yourself our memories are creating, and until we can join you in the wood, feel the earth and the sap rising and go well. We can scent you and some of us will soon be snapping hard at your heels. The path is open, the crossing place is left – what an adventure – here to there and there to here, it’s what we make of it. Farewell for now; see you in the wood soon-ish……what’s that? Ah! there you are……..

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  40. I was reading Avilion when I heard the news of Mr.Holdstock’s passing. It seemed so strange to be so entranced and involved in the beautiful world that he had created while he himself was leaving ours.

    I never met him but his influence on me was and is profound. His writing is deep and timeless and will be weaving it’s magic for generations to come, I’m sure.

    My heartfelt condolences to his partner and family.

    Paul Bazely

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  41. I’ve not even read The Mythago wood, whom my buying of the french edition date from same mounths ago. But all my youth was haunted by the myth around the creator of Mythagos or Cetlika, as adulated in french fandom as in anglo-saxon countries, and whom the most of books was published in french (that’s not really common) . Now I will read The Mythago wood differently, of course.
    RIP Robert Holdstock.

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  42. years of gentle extraction of giggles and laughter at conventions that rank high in my memory, alongside years of genuine pleasure given by your imagination, combine with a deep felt shock that there will be no more of either. But we will still be able to join you in Mythago wood, whenever we choose to dip into that realm and I feel sure that that is exactly as you would wish it to be you lovely man.

    So sad so sorry so much love and strength to all your loved ones

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  43. Dear Mr Holdstock…how is it possible that you are no longer here?

    I only found out this morning when a friend and colleague told me. I’m devastated.

    Mythago Wood changed my life in exactly the way Vaughan Williams’ music did, and in fact I often read your books with his music in the background. The experience has been nothing short of numinous.

    I tend to avoid the label “hero” to someone who has inspired me, but you did. You are the second hero I’ve lost to 2009, a truly black year.

    So wander well Mr Holdstock. See you in a wood somewhere…

    David.

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  44. I met Rob more than thirty years ago and we kept up an intermittent link ever since. It was always a pleasure to hear from him, if only by the Christmas cards we exchanged every year. He was a great, kind, lovely man and I will miss him. During the moving funeral last Thursday I wrote the following poem which I offer as a memorial of a man I admired and whose presence in the world I will miss a great deal.

    Poem for Rob

    Poem for Rob

    Don’t dare tell me
    he’s better off there
    (wherever there is).
    But most of all don’t say
    that they (whoever
    they may be)
    wanted him for themselves
    or were somehow jealous
    of all he was.

    In fact,
    don’t say anything except
    that we are all worse off,
    and that in this world
    is one less man
    whose life meant something –
    whom we’ll not forget.

    The only other thing to say
    is that somehow, impossibly
    (because it’s not really possible,
    whatever they tell you)
    a hand reached out
    to pull him though,
    and that in the Golden Wood
    he walkes again.

    John Matthews
    17.12.09

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  45. I never met the man, but I am very, very sad. The Mythago mythos meant more to me than any other fiction I’ve read. Rob’s genius was making it fantastic, yet wholly believable. The books have been a part of my life for twenty years, and I had dearly hoped to meet Robert at a signing someday. Not to be.

    My deepest sympathies to all his family and friends. We have lost one of the greats.

    Rest in peace, my friend.

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  46. MYTHAGO HAS ALWAYS HELD SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR ME AS IT HAS FOR MANY READERS.IT WASN’T LONG NOVEL, BUT WHAT WAS INSIDE WAS PURE MAGIC. I REMEMBER READING IT AROUND CHRISTMAS ALMOST 30 YRS AGO AND IT HAS ALWAYS TO ME SEEMED APPROPRIATE FOR BOTH CHRISTMAS AND EASTER (THE THEMES OF LIFE, DEATH, AND REBIRTH). I ALWAYS THOUGHT, IN THE RIGHT HANDS WHAT A WONDERFUL MOVIE THIS WOULD MAKE, BUT I AM GLAD THEY HAVEN’T BECAUSE THEY WOULD PROBABLY SCREW IT UP. THERE IS A DEEPNESS TO HIS WORKS THAT SURPASS ANY OTHER WRITER, ONE THAT TAKES YOU INSIDE AND BACK TO ANCIENT TIMES. ALL WILL MORN HIS DEPARTURE…..

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