i don't know how i missed the death of my favorite prose writer, thom jones, but jones passed away on october, 14, 2016 at age 71. here is the new york times obituary.
jones was educated at the university of iowa but was working as a high school janitor when the new yorker published his story, 'the pugilist at rest', which became the title of his first collection of stories. jones went on to publish two more collections of stories. the dude was not prolific but his prose held a gritty grace that i fell in love with on first read. jones' characters were often highly educated, odd fish who often suffered from mental illness and/or drug addiction. their professions ranged from boxer to doctor to janitor. but they were all lovable to me, and indeed, when i was working as a janitor at my alma mater, i became an addicted reader of the new yorker because i started combing thru back issues looking for more of jones' stories in the early '90s.
at the turn of the century jones fell silent, or at least published fewer pieces. he didn't seem like a digital kind of guy so whenever i googled for news about thom jones i'd come up with very little. i was surprised to read about his death today. i was hoping for more essays, and the novel his bio notes in his books said he was working on. but i do have his three collections of stories. we have his fiction, his singular voice, and his presence upon this earth. as anna reminded me tonight death is not optional. we all die. we all have six, seven, eight, or if we are real lucky, nine decades on this planet. such a short time, but it is enough, nearly, for reading and writing. i am grateful for thom jones and his beautiful stories.