Last week, Peter D. Sieruta passed away. Peter was an author, a librarian, a collector of children's books, a critic, a teacher, and no doubt many other things. His death was sudden and unexpected. He was (I think) about sixty years old. Those who knew him, whether personally or through his work, feel his absence deeply.
I did not "know" Peter other than through his writings and a couple of emails, but I have thought of little else for the past several days. Peter was a remarkable man—a man who loved his work profoundly and without reservation. Check out his blog, and you'll see what I mean. I wish that we could all leave this world is such a state of grace.
My most recent interaction with Peter was on the occasion of The Big Crunch winning the L.A. Times Book Prize. Peter was one of the three judges. I was pleased to win, of course, but an even greater honor, last month, was to have my career profiled by such and astute and thoughtful critic.
I wish I'd had the opportunity to meet Peter Sieruta in person. Still, I am glad to have known him through his writings.
When I heard of Peter's death, I spent a couple of hours rereading his blog, and I became curious as to what this amazing man looked like. Was he tall, short, large, small, brown, white, bald, bushy, or...? I know it doesn't matter, but I craved some sort of visual connection. So I googled him, which is how we connect these days, and found hundreds of pictures of book covers and dozens of pictures of authors—but not one photo of Peter himself. Not even on his Facebook page.
That was frustrating, but I quickly saw that the absence of Peter's image on the web, after years of him being extremely active online, was a part of who he was. It had to be intentional. Peter D. Sieruta was all about the books and authors and things and ideas he loved, not about the flesh and blood shell in which he spent his days. A lesson for us all.
The picture above is his Facebook profile image. Naturally, it is a detail from the cover of a book he loved.