WGLT reported that Charlie Harris passed away, which is hard news for anyone who gives a fig about good writing and provocative literature. While Charlie may be best known as the person with the good sense to hire David Foster Wallace at Illinois State University, he championed many other sages and stylists who were/are ahead of their time, ranging from Ron Sukenick to Carole Maso, and generously offered guidance and insight for those who were simply willing to inquire.
Charlie was also a fan of Evan Dara, and was one of the first to be spellbound by The Lost Scrapbook. When starting this site, I reached out to him for his thoughts on the genesis of TLS, and he responded in less than an hour:
“Like you, I’m a fan of Dara’s work. I remember when The Lost Scrapbook won the FC2 contest, and I also remember reading it in galleys.”
Although he wasn’t deeply involved in its publication, he graciously connected me with Curtis White and Ralph Berry, and sent me some articles he penned. After visiting Wallace’s house in May, I sent him a note about the trip, and he told me to make sure that I call him the next time I was in the area. It is with deep regret that I wasn’t able to take him up on this offer.
I highly recommend listening to his appearance on The Great Concavity, which was recorded during the DFW conference in Bloomington this summer. He told me, “This year’s conference was successful, I think, with folks coming from various countries. I hope we can keep it going.” Special thanks to Matt Bucher and Dave Laird for making this happen.
Our thoughts are with his wife, the entire Harris family, and all of those who were a part of his special universe.