Giant Shoulders

10538_10151761533340934_88635366_nToday is the 77th anniversary of the death, by suicide, of an icon of American literature, Robert E. Howard. He was only 30 years old. He is best known as the creator of Conan, which is the path which I followed to know him, but his writing amounted to much more than that. He is one of those writers I return to when I need a jolt of what drew me to reading, and from there to writing. His shoulders are among a select few authors that those of us trying to capture the energy of the old pulps stand on. There are certainly better writers — who knows though how good Howard might have become — on my bookshelf, but none I like more than him.

I was fortunate to visit his home a couple years ago; you can check that post out here.

This picture is a recreation of what was on Howard’s typewriter when he killed himself:

All fled, all done

so lift me on the pyre:

The feast is over,

The lamps expire



Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

6 thoughts on “Giant Shoulders”

  1. I’m 36 now, and it is incredibly sobering to think that Howard is going to be an author read and enjoyed, no doubt, for centuries to come, and he ended his life at 30. You’re absolutely right that we can only imagine the works he could have given us if he’d continued writing over the course of a long and prolific life.

    Every couple of years I go on a big REH kick and read a bunch of Conan or Kull or El Borak stories, and it nearly brings a tear to my eye thinking…well, that’s it. That’s the last of those stories he’ll gift us with.

        1. You’re a man of 1000 faces, Badelaire. And here I was all excited in thinking some new blood had stumbled across this outpost in the hinterlands of the internet!

          1. Hah! Well, I’ve been working with author Mack Maloney to build a WordPress site for him, and I was still logged in under that account. But I do wear an almost dizzying array of virtual hats!

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