“How can you know what is missing if you’ve never met it? You must know of something’s existence before you can notice its absence.”

I am noticing an absence.

I woke up this morning to the news that author E.L. Konigsburg died last night of a massive stroke.

I cried.

If someone asks for my favorite book, I always hesitate, but if they say I can start to list things, The View from Saturday invariably comes up. If someone asks for a favorite author, it’s much the same. Konigsburg has always made that list.

 I don’t think there is any feeling I like more than the one that someone is glad to see me. -Silent to the Bone

Konigsburg wrote middle grade contemporary realistic fiction. Which has always been one of my favorites. But there’s more than that.

I don’t know if there’s ever been an author who’s granted young people such a magnificent voice. Who took young people’s concerns so seriously and displayed them so eloquently. Her characters are so thoughtful and selfish, foolish and wise. I’ve never aspired to be like someone so much as I aspired to be like Claudia, or Julian, or Margaret Rose Kane.

I was sometimes a boy, and I was often a bitch…but what I always was, was superb. -The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World

I think Konigsburg’s work had such a profound impact on me because I was able to identify with her characters so much. Many of them are a little awkward, a little nerdy, a little queer, often bookish, a little bit of a mess, and often with a good heart but not knowing how to express that.

Every now and then, a person must do something simply because he wants to, because it seems to him worth doing. And that does not make it worthless or a waste of time. -The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place

I honestly don’t have any lofty things to say or eloquent ruminations. I never met Mrs. Konigsburg (although it was always a fantasy), but I feel certain that if I ever had, she would have been the type of person to have called me a “friend.” And it makes me very, very sad knowing that such a person is no longer in the world.

I think the most important thing I ever learned from Konigsburg’s books is to pay attention. To take those little moments of joy and survival and let them fill you up.

She thought that maybe, just maybe, western civilization was in decline because people did not take time to take tea at four o’clock. -The View from Saturday

I don’t know that I’m too invested in “western civilization,” but I do think that more of us would be able to get along in our lives better if we took time to take tea at four o’clock.

Do something for me, will you?

Will you find a collective that helps up find your chops? Will you give someone a voice? Will you unearth a tragic secret and make sure it’s known? Will you fight to keep something beautiful in the world just because it’s beautiful?

Will you run away to a museum sometime soon?

For E.L. Konigsburg.

Because I think we need it.

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