Well-known young adult and children's book author William Sleator died on August 3, 2011. This afternoon, I attended a memorial in his honor held in the auditorium of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.
His longtime editor, Ann Durell McCory, spoke, as did Elizabeth Law, Susan Van Metre, and Stephen Weiner. His brothers Tycho and Danny gave emotional readings from some of his books and from letters written by friends and fans. Tiedan Yao played some of William Sleator's favorite pieces by Ravel and Debussy on the piano.
William Sleator wrote 26 novels, four books for younger readers, short stories, and a collection of autobiographical stories called Oddballs. I re-read Oddballs last night, and it's an excellent
"window" into the author's personality and quirky sense of humor.
Here are the opening sentences. Please take a look while I throw my computer keyboard to the floor.
"The best presents our parents ever gave to my sister, Vicky, and me were our little brothers.
I was nine and Vicky was seven and a half when Danny was born. We had been looking forward impatiently to his arrival, especially Vicky, who loved playing with dolls. She had always enjoyed making the dolls fight with each other; when the dolls wore out, she ripped off their arms and legs. Now she is a nurse.
We tried to be more careful with Danny. But it didn't take us long to discover that a human baby with a brain was a lot more fun to play with than a stupid doll."
(Sleator, William. Oddballs. New York: Dutton, 1993.)