There was more to Jim Crumley than most folks saw, at least at first. It took a while before he’d let people in. I was fortunate enough to spend time with Crumley outside the usual Missoula writers’ scene, which could get cheesy and inbred. We once drove from Montana to New York City together to attend to bookish affairs that involved agents and editors and going to lunch. Jim and I cut wood at Annick Smith’s place near Potomac, and hunted mule deer at my Dad’s ranch, where Jim used his father’s old lever-action to kill a couple nice bucks. The summer I spent in Missoula working on a novel, we’d get together in the afternoons and drive the backroads, smoking a little of this and that, sipping cold beers and talking. We didn’t talk much about books or writing. We spoke instead of things that mattered, like motorcycles and women and the places we loved.
I never met Crumley, though I did see him around town. I’ve never met Ralph Beer either, but will definitely order his essay collection. Neil McMahon, mentioned in the essay, I have met, and he is a great guy. Hope to cross paths with him again. Speaking of Neil, he has released his early horror novels as eBooks. They are well worth checking out, as are his detective novels.