I have just learned of the death, at the age of 95, of American writer Barry Hughart, whose Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox is easily one of the series of books that had the strongest impact on me as a reader, as a writer (for what I am worth) and as an individual.
Looking back, I can see the roots of a lot of my interests and passions to the first meeting with the wonderful strangeness of Bridge of Birds, the fist Chronicle of Master Li.
With its strange mixture of fantasy and history, its roots in folklore and legend, it sometimes science-fictional twists, and it humor, Bridge of Birds remains one of my favorite fantasies, and it’s the sort of thing I have in mind when I start writing a new story.
I’ll never be that good, but it’s all right – it’s good to aim high.
Barry Hughart interrupted his series after three novels, because he was displeased at the way his publisher was handling his work.
That was a terrible loss for all of us – a loss that Hughart death seals forever.
He will be sorely missed.