I'm a pagan...I'm a liberal..I live in West, Texas..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TONY HILLERMAN 1925-2008


Just about as sad as you can get. Tony Hillerman died...He was 83 years old and been in declining health for the past couple of years. But still. He was one of my favorite authors. He hadn't written much in the past few years...but every one was a jewel. If you haven't read anything by him, you should. He wrote about New Mexico and the four corners area. Lt. Joe Leaphorn was introduced in The Blessing Way in 1970. He was an experienced police officer who understood, but did not share, his people's traditional belief in a rich spirit world. Officer Jim Chee, introduced in People of Darkness in 1978, was a younger officer studying to become a "hathaali"- Navajo for shaman.
Together, they struggled daily to bridge the cultural divide between the dominant Anglo society and the impoverished people who call themselves the Dineh. (think it means the people)
Mr. Hillerman's commercial breakthrough was Skinwalkers, published in 1987, the first time he put both characters and their divergent worldviews in the same book. It sold 430,000 hardcovers copies, paving the way for A Thief Of Time, which made several best seller lists. In all, he wrote 18 books in the Navajo series, the most recent titled The Shape Shifters. (I read every single one of them.)
Each is characterized by an unadorned writing style, intricate plotting, memorable characterization and vivid descriptions of Indian rituals and of the vast plateau of the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners region of the Southwest.
He is survived by his wife Marie and their six children.
I hope he had one last book in the works and can be finished and put out. I don't like the thought of not being able to read any more about Leaphorn and Chee.
If you haven't read any books by him, you need to. I have a greater understanding of the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Apache Indians because of his books. Each book is not only a great mystery, it's a learning experience. Sigh*...so long Tony, you will really be missed.

20 comments:

LostInColor said...

I've never read any of his books, but I've listend to them on audio. Used to love them for road trips. bummer.

Sling said...

I haven't read his books either,but it's always a bummer when we lose an extraordinary author.
I'm guessin' you havent heard the last from your favorite characters..

sageweb said...

What a bummer. I never read him before. I will have to look him up.

jan said...

On behalf of a lot of us who haven't read his books, thank you. I've enjoyed all of the books you have recommended and I know I'll have many hours of reading pleasure ahead now.

Nan said...

Thanks for putting this up. I'd been thinking about doing a post, but was just too damned depressed. I love his books. They're keepers. He's one of those authors that I can re-read multiple times. My favorite in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series is Coyote Waits.

PBS has done a few of the stories -- they're worth watching, although I had never pictured Jim Chee as looking like Adam Beach.

Nan said...

Thanks for putting this up. I'd been thinking about doing a post, but was just too damned depressed. I love his books. They're keepers. He's one of those authors that I can re-read multiple times. My favorite in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series is Coyote Waits.

PBS has done a few of the stories -- they're worth watching, although I had never pictured Jim Chee as looking like Adam Beach.

billy pilgrim said...

i love shape shifters and face dancers.

i just reserved that book from connolly you recommended.

rainywalker said...

Excellent writer, great books and he will be missed by all.

That Rude Girl said...

Unfortunately, I've never heard of Tony Hillerman until now. It's sad, I don't know 3/4 of the authors you mention. I'm going to blame it on all the years when I was in school studying and didn't read anything except boring law books.

yellowdog granny said...

if you have read him you know what im talking about...if you haven't read him you should...he's very very good..

tsduff said...

I enjoyed his books very much. The movies weren't so good. Great post about an amazing author. Have you ever read anything by Canadian writer Charles de Lint? He writes extensive things about shape changers (especially coyotes and magpies) also in a fabulous way. RIP Tony Hillerman.

Junebugg said...

I've got most of his books in hardback buried somewhere in my maze of a library. Damn, I'm gonna miss him

Intense Guy said...

I've read a handful of Tony Hillerman's books. The first one drew me in completely having a refreshing change of locale and culture - fighting the usual demons and crimes.

Mr. Hillerman will live on his rich stories. May his spirit find a welcomed rest.

Kulkuri said...

Tony Hillerman is a good read and you get a feel for how life is in the Four-Corners area.

Rainwolf said...

Well crap. I didn't know that.
RIP Mr. Hillerman.

catscratch said...

Always very sad to lose a great talent.

Very nice post, Jackie.

rosemary said...

I liked his books....i didn't think he was that old.....

McRaven said...

Thanks for the heads up on good books. Just wanted to stop by and tell you I miss you. I love you.

I almost got arrested today for breaking into my son's garage...the neighbors called the police to say an old lady was trying to kick the door in...I was frustrated because the damn thing was stuck and would not open so I gave it a few kicks. The officer asked me do you live here...I said no just visiting. hehehe

evilganome said...

I was very sad to hear about Hillerman's death on NPR. I started reading his books at least 20 years ago and loved his policemen and the portrait of the 4 corners area and the Navajo people.

Cheesemeister said...

Unfortunately I haven't read that many of his books but I love the Southwest and so they always had appeal for that reason. Too bad to lose such a talent.