Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where were you when you heard the news?

Where were you when you heard the news? People of my parents’ generation remember where they were when they heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. The younger generation remembers where they were when they heard that John Lennon had been killed.

And now Michael Crichton is gone. I don’t expect a lot of people will clearly remember where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news. But some of us will never forget it.

I had just come home after a hectic day working at the bookstore. This was Nov. 5, the day after Obama was elected. When I got home, the CBS Nightly News was starting. Katie Couric, giving the preview of the evening news, said Michael Crichton had died. I couldn’t believe it. I thought “She must have gotten something mixed up.” But later there was a segment telling how he had died of cancer the previous day. I was so stunned, I couldn’t even think. I just couldn’t absorb it. I called a friend of mine who I had spoken to on the phone earlier that day. She had heard that Michael Crichton had died, but she didn’t tell me because she thought it would be best if I was home when I heard the news. I didn’t cry until the next day.

The next time I worked at the bookstore, I put up a memorial display to Michael Crichton. It's standard procedure to put up a display when an author dies. The manager on duty let me put it up, but she told me to make it my last task of the day. Putting up the display didn't take long. It was an endcap with two shelves and a sign that read "A Lifetime Remembered". I got to select the Crichton books I wanted to use. The manager was right to make me wait until the end of my shift. When I finished putting up the display, I had tears running down my face.

A couple of weeks later, I noticed that someone had placed a few copies of A Case of Need, a book Crichton wrote under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson, on the display. I remember reading how that novel was republished without Crichton’s approval, and I thought, “He wouldn’t like that”. So I removed A Case of Need from the display and replaced it with Airframe, one of my favorites.

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