Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maggie Estep 1963-2014

Maggie Estep, a writer whose work I love and connected to deeply died today.  So what.  Big deal, Alannah.  Everyone dies.  People whom I admire die all the time (recent example - Phillip Seymour Hoffman), right?  Well dammit, this one hit me harder.  Harder than PSH, who we all know had YEARS of tremendous skill and expertise to share with us yet.  I guess perhaps because I connected with her writing so deeply.  She wrote this fantastic trilogy about Ruby Murphy, a woman who kept getting dragged into solving mysteries.  Ruby lived alone at the far end of Coney Island and although she was vegetarian insisted on feeding her beloved cats organic fresh meat.  She loved horses and horse racing.  I read those books over 10 years ago and details keep coming back to me.  That's saying something because I couldn't tell you the first thing about half of the books I've read in my life. 

Maggie was friends with friends of mine.  Or acquaintances, colleagues.  I don't really know.  I know I had heard her name tossed about casually the way friends do so I checked her books out of the library.  She had made a name for herself in the spoken word, Def Poetry Jam heyday of the early 90s.  Those were my formative years too.  Maybe that's also why I connected with her.  Both she and her characters were yogis and approached life in a wonderful, no nonsense way.  A love for animals was a huge guiding force in her life.  She wrote a fantastic book called Diary of an Emotional Idiot - could there be a better name for a semi-autobiographical book about a woman trying to find her way through the first third of her life???

I think maybe it hit me so hard because she was so YOUNG (only 11 years older than me) and a hell of a lot healthier than I am.  A heart attack.  Jesus.  So sudden. 

I heard the news today and was compelled to google her.  Dammit.  Too late I discovered her wonderful blog (linked above).  I was even more heartbroken to read all the tributes she has written over the past year to friends she had lost....and now here I am basically doing the same thing. 

All I can say is - thank you, Maggie.  Thank you for writing words that resonated with me and gave me comfort, as we navigated the confusing sea of womanhood.  Your writing was important to me, and I like to think that's what writers hope for more than anything. 


Anonymous said...

I was bummed to hear about this! I was a huge fan of Def Poetry Jam. I never read her books, but now I'm going to (well, as soon as I finish my stupid paper).

Alannah said...

She was a compatriot of Girlbomb's - that's how I think I first heard of her. You'll love her books - very engaging writer.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, makes sense!