Before he died, I had only reviewed Creation, which is a gorgeous, oversized book which would look lovely on any bookshelf, and used Raven when I spoke at the Common Grounds Festival last summer about origin myths. Since his death, I have decided to try and review each of his books in order, beginning with Anansi the Spider. I found a few obituaries and eulogies online, but I like this one best by author and illustrator Doug Cushman:
During one of the last times Gerald was here in Paris, we went off hunting for an oyster restaurant. We finally found one in the Quartier Montorgueil on Rue des Petits Carreaux. The owner shipped oysters from his own farm on the Brittany coast so they were guaranteed to be fresh. We ordered a plate of thirty-six and a bottle of Muscadet and savored each sweet shelled beauty.
After staring at the empty platter for a few minutes we looked at each other and ordered another twenty-four. Coffee was taken and I asked for the check. I handed the owner the money and told him to keep the rest as a pourboire (a tip, but literally, “for a drink”). The owner brought over a bottle of Armagnac and poured us both — and himself — a drink. In our bumbling French Gerald and I learned about our host’s oyster beds and hometown. We stumbled out of the restaurant and into the Metro station, said our good-byes, and promised that we’d return soon for another grand plat des huitres.
Sadly, the restaurant has gone forever. Sadly, so has Gerald. Gerald McDermott died on December 26, 2012, in Los Angeles. He had been battling a long illness, deciding to convalesce in New Mexico at the edge of a Navajo reservation after his last trip to Paris, settle his affairs in L.A., and return to France in six months time. His body just gave out. He was determined to live in Paris for good.
In May 2012 he arrived here completely convinced he’d be here full time. When I went to see him at his temporary digs after the first couple days he’d arrived, the door was opened by Gerald. In a wheelchair.