Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marty Greenberg, R.I. P.

As many of you know my best friend Marty Greenberg died two weeks ago. I've been trying to write about him ever since but II'm not satisfied with anything we've done. When John D. MacDonald died (Marty had done a few books with him) we published a trade paperback (The Mystery Scene Reader) dedicated to him. Everybody from Donald Westlake to Charles Willeford wrote short pieces about what JDM's work had meant to them. Marty and I were big fans of his novel A Deadly SShade of Gold and in particular a moving passage he wrote about death. That passage seems appropriate here:

“It is so damn strange about the dead. Life is like a big ship, all lights and action and turmoil, chugging across a dark sea. You have to drop the dead ones over the side. An insignificant little splash, and the ship goes on. For them the ship stops at that instant. For me Sam was back there somewhere, further behind the ship every day. I could look back and think of all the others I knew, dropped all the way back to the horizon and beyond, and so much had changed since they were gone and they wouldn’t know the people aboard, know the rules of the deck games. The voyage saddens as you lose them. You wish they could see how things are. You know that inevitably they’ll drop you over the side, you and everyone you have loved and known, little consecutive splashes in the silent sea, while the ship maintains its unknown course. ”


Ben Boulden said...

The first time I noticed the name Martin Harry Greenberg on a book was the anthology LAST MAN ON EARTH, which he co-edited with Isaac Asimov and Charles Waugh. I purchased it at a thrift shop sometime around 1990. I was in high school and read so much my parents were worried--probably still are since that's what parents do.

I read every story in the anthology, most two, three or more times. It was my first taste of William F. Nolan, Clifford Simak, and Fredric Brown. Unfortunately I lost my thrift store copy--a Fawcett Crest edition as I recall--but while I don't have the book anymore the stories and ideas have stayed with me for two decades.

Since that first recognition of Martin Greenberg, I have always been pleased to see his name on the cover of a new or old anthology. I wouldn't have been able to pick him from a two man line up, but I sure new his work. He found and made available stories of places and things both far and near that entertained, taught, introduced new ideas, and for the most part did all three at the same time.

I didn't know the man, but damn do I admire his seemingly tireless effort and the seemingly endless list of anthologies and books he put together. His splash in the dark ocean current is larger than most.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Memorable words, Ed. Thanks.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Thank you for this. It is so appropriate.

Todd Mason said...

It's a raw deal. But it will be hard to forget the expanse of his work, and as Ben Boulden suggests, the number of people who were influenced by it.

Kate Stine said...

A lovely quote, Ed.