Out of nowhere one day, no more than a month ago, I wondered when we would lose* editor and author Diana Athill, and I actually felt some sorrow just thinking about the day she would die, which I figured must be coming because a. we all die, and b. I knew she was now either in her high 90s or 100s.
So yesterday came the announcement: Diana Athill has died, aged 101.
Go read that obituary. Really. Even if you have no idea who she is her life story is a wonder. Not only do I feel tremendous warmth toward Athill for being part of the publishing house of Andre Deutsch (the publisher who published Helene Hanff's books in England), but I really enjoyed her as an author, too. Also, because she found much of her success in writing after her 40th birthday, I find her tremendously inspiring. Here's a list of posts I've written about her in the past (I had forgotten there were so many).
I don't know where to tell you to start: among other things, she wrote the memoir Stet, about her life as an editor; Somewhere Near the End, about life as she aged into her 80s and 90s, and Alive, Alive Oh! an essay collection which includes her essay about having a surprise pregnancy and miscarriage at age 43 that remains among the best things I've ever read about a woman's body by a woman.
I salute you, Diana Athill. Fly, be free.
*Mr. CR says I have got to stop using the word "lose" as a euphemism for someone's dying. When my brother died, years ago, I called my library boss to tell her I'd lost my brother and wouldn't be in to work the next day, and all she snapped was, "Well, you're on the schedule the day after that, too," to which I patiently had to explain I wouldn't be in that day, either. When I got off the phone, appalled, Mr. CR said, "Well, maybe she really just thought you lost your brother out in the cornfield or something." (That's actually one of my favorite Mr. CR moments of all time.) But I can't help it! "Died" is too harsh and I hate the word "passed." So "lost" it is.