I'd understand if you looked at the title of this post, and the picture it ran with, and assumed that I was about to eulogize Andrew Vachss two months too late. But that's not what this is.
In truth, at the time Vachss died, I had never read a single word he'd written. I'd never interacted with him. I didn't even follow him on Twitter.
There were reasons for this. The first was I had been under the impression he was mostly a PI writer, which is a flavor I don't generally dig (though there are exceptions). The second reason I'd avoided Vachss work is because I'd heard it dealt a lot with child sexual abuse.
I'm not squeamish or a prude, but that particular shade of darkness has never done anything other than turn my stomach, so, though I knew Vachss had fought for children's rights, though I knew that, as a victims advocate, he probably handled the topic more skillfully than 99% of writers who touched the topic, it still wasn't something I wanted to go near.
And then, when he passed, so many of my friends who, perhaps because of the same reticence that made me unwilling to give Vachss a shot, began to voice exactly how influential he had been to them. How fantastic of a writer he'd been.
It was surprising. Death brings out accolades for everyone, but these were sincere. Genuine. Powerful. You could feel them. Especially this one: