28 Oct

Bill Harrison

My friend Bill Harrison the great novelist and wonderful teacher, the co-founder of the University of Arkansas’ Writing Workshop (along with James Whitehead) died tonight at 10:20. I will write a more full account of our forty six year friendship sometime later this week. Bill was like a big brother to me, saved my career, and probably my life by seeing something in a wild kid who more than anything needed a home and people who thought he was ok and that he really did have the talent he hoped he had. The two years I spent at Arkansas were turbulent, wild, the 60’s in the Deep South, which was no joke. We were the first hippies that town had ever seen, and it was some trip. Threats to cut off our hair . A fight in a pool hall in which my lead guitarist,Mike caudle, knocked out a redneck with an eight ball. Bill was there backing us up. When they took away my scholarship he went in and fought for me and they gave it back in one day. He literally helped me put my eight hundred page novel of the Haight, Shedding Skin, together on his office floor. The story goes on and we had a rare and deep friendship. I already miss him so much that just writing this puts a hole in my heart. I’m going to bed and dream of my old buddy. Read his wonderful book In A Wild Sanctuary. Or his masterpiece Burton and Speak which was made into the film Mountains of the Moon by Bob Rafelson. Best of all are his short stories. He was a wonderful short story writer. Gotta go Thanks for reading this. Here’s to William Harrison, master teacher, lover of women, academic politician superb, quiet wild man, and great friend. The laughs and things we shared can never be taken away.