Monday, September 28, 2009

William Safire: 1929-2009

Columnist, speech-writer, Pulitzer Prize winner, and fellow logophile William Safire died Sunday. Word lovers had strong opinions both for and against Safire's continuing work and proclamations in the area of language, but regardless of how one felt, his words and ideas were worth reading. And still are.
I'm not an autograph hound; I don't place much value in the signature of a famous person. In my life, I've owned only two autographed items. The first was a recording of the Indianpolis Symphony Orchestra autographed by then-conductor Raymond Leppard; I donated it to a silent auction to raise money for the Indiana Wind Symphony a few years back. The second is a copy of William Safire On Language that my mother somehow managed to get personally signed by the author. It still sits on my shelf with Bill Bryson, Constance Hale, Lynne Truss, Charles Harrington Elster, Stephen King, Anne Lamott, and many others. And it'll be there for quite a while.

[Update . . . er . . . apology, 10/5/09: My memory must be going. I wasn't at home when I wrote this post, and I made some mistakes. I do have a copy of Safire's On Language, but it's the book right next to it, Richard Lederer's Adventures of a Verbivore, that's autographed. By Richard Lederer, not William Safire. And as far as I know, Richard Lederer is still alive. ]