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View Diary: Some Short thougths on Tom Clancy's Passing (63 comments)

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  •  I met Clancy at a writers' association party (8+ / 0-)

    in Baltimore one Xmas many years ago. Seemed to be a decent guy. Very right-wing Catholic though--you can see that in a lot of his books.

    The story of how Red October became a best-seller is a classic illustration of how much luck goes into it. This is how I remember hearing it:

    Clancy had been trying to write novels for awhile, & in the early 1980s was shopping the H4RO manuscript around with no success. Finally he brought it to the Naval Institute Press in Annapolis, not far from where he lived & sold insurance. As it happened, the NIP, a small press that specialized in (you guessed it) naval non-fiction, had just decided to branch out into fiction, & H4RO was a good fit for them. NIP didn't have much clout for shelf space, but they managed to place it in some small shops in the Annapolis area.

    As it happened, a woman browsing in one of those stores late in 1984 examined the book & thought this would be a good Xmas present for a friend of hers who was impossible to buy for. As it happened, that friend went away for the holidays & was looking for some light distraction, picked the book up, read it and loved it. And when he had the chance in front of a crowd, he went out of his way to extol the virtues of the book.

    As it happened, the friend's name was the just-reelected President Ronald Reagan. Sha-fucking-zaam!

    At that writers' party I asked Clancy what he thought of the novels of Stephen Hunter, a personal friend who at that point had sold a few technothrillers that I thought were pretty good but hadn't done much more than earn back his advance. Clancy very graciously said, "I think they're great and I can't understand why he hasn't had more success."

    The reason, it seems, is that he hadn't had the luck to get one of them onto on Ronald Reagan's nightstand... (NB Hunter eventually broke through with his Bob Lee Swagger novels--after well over a decade grinding away in relative obscurity before becoming an "overnight success"...)

    I was a fan of Clancy's early work & read all the novels (except Without Remorse) through The Bear & The Dragon. One thing I will always associate with him is 9-11: When in all innocence I pulled up the Internet on a PC in Kaunas, Lithuania, at about 3 PM East Coast Time that day, & first saw the headlines, my immediate reaction was that the site had been hacked by some Cheetoh-fingered 15-year-old who'd just read Debt of Honor.

    Rest in peace, Tom Clancy. For all your flaws you could tell one hell of a story.

    BALTIMORE RAVENS--SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS! WOOO-HOOO!

    by Uncle Cosmo on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 04:05:31 PM PDT

    •  Seriously? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      I'd never heard that story before :)

      It's funny though mentioning Naval Institute Press--they're my go-to source for almost anything written by Norman Friedman (well, them and Conway Maritime Press).  He's my current favorite author--non-fiction of course :)

      Sean

      •  Yeh, srsly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whytewolf, RiveroftheWest

        That's how I heard it. Everything starting with Reagan going on vacation is rock solid. No idea who the gifter was though.

        O wad som sales the Giftee gie us,
        To read our book & flack for free us....

        One frackin' hell of a (semi)literal three-cushion shot, nyet?

        BALTIMORE RAVENS--SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS! WOOO-HOOO!

        by Uncle Cosmo on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 06:21:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Clancy was one of the very first people I heard (3+ / 0-)

      interviewed on 9/11, I think by CNN as we were watching the towers burning.  I think they called him because of Debt of Honor.  

      I read the same books you did, though I did read a couple of Op Center ones but quit when I realized I had grown out of that phase and so had he.

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