Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Goodbye, Mr. Hillerman

One of my favorite authors of all time passed away Sunday. His simplistic, yet vivid portrayal of Navajo culture and the land they call home, invited the reader to briefly glimpse this fascinating region, in the pages of his books. His stories centered around two Navajo Tribal policeman, Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee. Leaphorn was his first character, introduced in 1970, with Chee appearing eight years later. In 1987 he brought the two characters together and experienced his first best seller.

My favorite, of his books, are the early Chee stories, and then the eventual introduction of the two characters together. To me these are the 'best of times' in the series.

Neither Leaphorn, nor Chee were impossibly perfect or brilliant, which made them extremely likable and easy to relate to. Leaphorn is an older man, who has become a legend in his own time on the force, due to his skills of deduction and dedication. Chee is younger, confused by his role in the world and his heritage, but extremely intelligent, when he is not second guessing himself. They form an uneasy partnership as the series progresses, each admiring the other, and yet not entirely comfortable which each other either. Their world is the stark southwest, and Tony Hillerman could make you feel like you were right there, driving over those dusty, lonely roads, with only the sporadic crackle of the police radio and your own thoughts for company. He makes one long for the land of the 'four corners' even when one is a die hard trees and hills and hollers sort of gal.

I read many, many books, but few get re-read over and over. In that number are several of the Chee/Leaphorn novels. These books are like old friends, and even though I know 'who-dun-it' I still enjoy the getting there, no matter how many times I read them. If I'm having a bad patch, and need something to distract me, oftentimes it's one of the Hillerman books I pull off the bookshelves.

It saddens me that Tony Hillerman has left us, but by all accounts he lived his life to the fullest and enjoyed his place in it. While it's hard to imagine that no more books will spill out of that marvelous mind onto paper ever again, he has left us the legacy of his existing books to read over and over.

Thanks for your years of dedication, wonderful imagination and way with words, Mr. Hillerman...and thanks for sharing them with the world.


Pat in east TN said...

I was also saddened to hear we had lost this great author. I haven't read many of his books, but the ones I have read I found outstanding. I'm trying to compile a list of the Chee, then Chee/Leaphorn, books so I can start at the beginning and read them in order ... can you help me or suggest some of the better ones?

thecrazysheeplady said...

Amen. When I was much younger I decided to pack up my car and my collie dog and head out west. Before I left I had the farrier out to trim my horses and when he heard what I was planning said he wouldn't charge me that day if I promised to go buy a Hillerman book and read it before I left. I did and boy was I was hooked.

Kathy said...

He was quite the familiar figure here in Flagstaff, often coming this way to do research.
We will miss him here as well...

Vicki Lane said...

Beautifully said, Tammy. Though I never met him, it felt like losing a friend.

Pat, Start with THE BLESSING WAY.

Tina T-P said...

I loved the movies on Public TV - what wonderful characters he wove. T.

Tammy said...

Hey Pat, I'll try and pull together a list of the Hillerman books, with my favorites noted and email it to you. You will enjoy the series I think. :-)
I always thought that would be fun---to visit 'Hillerman' country with books in tow. What an experience that would be!
Kathy--totally awesome! I forget that you live in 'that' area sometimes. :-)
I agree Vickie--I feel like a good friend has just died.