2017-09-25 17:49:15 UTC
In Memoriam: Kit Reed
Kit Reed (b.1932) died on September 24, several months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Reed published the story “The Wait” in 1958 and was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best New Author of 1958, a forerunner of the John W. Campbell, Jr. Award. She published short fiction mostly in F&SF in her early years, but eventually branched out to other magazines. Her first novel was mainstream, and in 1969, she published Armed Camps, her first genre novel.
Beginning with Mister Da V and Other Stories in 1967, Reed published ten collections of her short fiction, most recently the massive The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories in 2013. Three of her works, “Bride of Bigfoot,” Weird Women, Wired Women, and Little Sisters of the Apocalypse were shortlisted for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Her novel Where was nominated for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and she won the Alex Award from the ALA for Thinner Than Thou.
Reed has published horror novels and detective novels under the pseudonyms Shelley Hyde and Kit Craig. She published her final novel, Mormama in May of this year.
Kit was one of the champions of our community: writer, teacher, and mentor. She will be deeply missed.
Kit’s son, Mack Reed, has posted an additional remembrance on Facebook.
I don’t know how to tell you this any other way, so here it is: Kit Reed has died, early this morning, in Montrose, California, in her sleep. She was 85.
Mom kept things pretty private. Only her family and a few friends knew that she had an inoperable brain tumor that was discovered in May.
She had some of the best doctors in the world, great nursing care, and her family close to her throughout, but cancer had the upper hand from far too early in the game.
So, there it is.
She leaves behind a massive volume of work. She wrote stories nearly every day since the age of 5.
She wove tales of haunted women and automatic tigers, of feral girl scouts and renegade nuns. Her deeply flawed, beautifully complex human characters spoke in anxious, genuine voices. She ranged effortlessly from an outcast teen’s snotty braggadoccio to a widow’s bitter resolve.
She wrote of uncomfortably unexplained loss, in a search for answers to her life’s own mystery, which began at age 9 when her father’s submarine went down in battle, all hands lost, and continued through her latest books. Her fiction is wonderful, strange, disturbing stuff, and no one else wrote like her, nor ever will.
She leaves behind her devoted, brilliant husband, and the three loving, idiosyncratic children she raised with him, who themselves have married and made their own loving, idiosyncratic families.
She taught us how to love by tender example, and counseled us bluntly to muddle through whatever life threw us because that was really the only sensible thing to do. She drummed into us that nothing is certain but this: if the one thing you’re hanging fire on right now doesn’t turn out right, then keep plugging; Maybe the next thing will.
And she leaves behind hundreds (more likely, thousands) of students, colleagues, co-conspirators and dear friends who benefited from her dark wit and her vivid attention, her incendiary imagination and her sharp ear and her endless hospitality. You will all surely miss Kit just as her family does right now.
She loved like a child, worked like a stevedore, cursed like a sailor and traveled and sampled the world with Twainian zest. She was the most two-fisted woman I have ever known, never completely happy unless she was in motion, juggling too many things.
I have known this day would come for some months now, so I have gained a solid head start on making peace with it. I also know I will be missing her until the end of my days. She was a marvelous mother and tireless mentor and unshakable friend.
Mom said she didn’t want a memorial service of any kind. So there will be none.
In a way, she wanted to sort of *vanish* … and have people notice only when they looked up to realize she was gone, and think of her as she always had been with them before she fell ill.
So we’d ask that you remember Kit Reed as she wanted you to:
Picture that time she invited you in for impromptu tea-and-cookies, a cocktail party, an orphans’ Thanksgiving or high Indian feast at the big, warm, messy house in Middletown.
Remember how you felt when she introduced you to new people and wild ideas that evolved into lifelong friends and brilliant, finished art.
Feel the spark of conversation, and the bright, wicked laughter you shared together, and the buzz of the next story she was itching to tell.
Crack one of her books and read again. Imagine her sitting beside you and reading it aloud. (May I humbly recommend any of the short stories from “The Story Until Now” - http://amzn.to/2hsCj20)
Raise a glass in her absence - or a chocolate bonbon - next time you’re out with friends.
And keep plugging for the day when Kit just knew you would do something extraordinary. Because, just maybe, you will.
Using Kit’s donations page for the Alzheimers’ Walk of Greater Los Angeles (https://m-alzgla.akaraisin.com/14103/participant/3643677);
Giving to your favorite writing program (https://826national.org is a great one);
Or donating to the cancer charity of your choice (https://www.cancerresearch.org is highly rated).