Last September, Brendan, and Jen, friends whom I had in Social Justice class years ago at SLU, told me that he had been diagnosed with malignant metastatic melanoma. The other day, Jen sent me the following text: “We just found out that Brendan’s full body CT scan done on Tuesday was normal—so no signs of cancer 12 weeks into treatment and 6 months after his surgery!”
I just found out that a classmate died last year in Japan. Ray Pruitt studied two years at Bellarmine (1978-80), then eventually finished his Bachelor’s at Harvard before doing law at Yale. Ray, Anne Walter and I had signed up for a US history class sophomore year. For the first quiz, Ray ignored what the teacher gave us and instead wrote a short essay on the vices of indoctrination. The professor later called him into her office, and he proposed that he was ready for a serious, critical look at U.S. history and he knew two other students (Anne and me) who were also up for reading some of the classics of our nation. She agreed, and we three stopped going to class and instead met with her every couple of weeks for discussion on a particular book. Near the end of the spring term, one of Ray’s papers was on the Beats, which introduced me to the writings of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs.
Thinking of Ray’s exuberance, I recall Harold Bloom’s commentary on The Book of J about Yahweh’s Blessing: “J’s vision of the charismatic is that its quality lets us envision a time without boundaries, a sense of something evermore about to be, a dream that is no dream but rather a dynamic breaking through into a perpetually fresh vitalism…”
At Amazon.com, I see that my friend Jason Makansi’s novel, The Moment Before, will be out in November. It’s about “a woman and her beloved Syrian father, separated forty years earlier when he is swept up in a geopolitical odyssey from hell, are almost reunited by a lawyer struggling to save his Illinois hometown from financial ruin.” I read a gripping draft of it this past summer, and I am pumped to facilitate a reading group of his book this fall.