In Memory of Dewey
I didn’t plan to write this post. This Thursday will mark two years since Dewey passed; it was sudden and unexpected (she had been participating in NaNoWriMo and just announced a schedule of giveaways to celebrate the winter holidays). I still miss her terribly, which is why I shied away from writing this. In one way, I said all that I had to say last year, and I just couldn’t face doing another post about the absence I always feel in the blogosphere. In another way, it just felt too private to post about. But then I realised that all of the bloggers who joined our community in 2009 and 2010 never had the chance to know Dewey, and they might not even realise who the In Loving Memory button on my sidebar is for.
So here I am. Dewey began blogging in 2007, and from the beginning her site, The Hidden Side of the Leaf (named for the Toni Morrison quote: “Birth, life, and death — each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.”) looked professional. Her husband was in computers, and self-hosted her blog, and the design was so fancy, especially for back then when book blogging was in its infancy! :) I remember coming across her for the first time, and being a little nervous to leave a comment…she seemed at such a different level than my blog. But I quickly discovered my nervousness was for nothing; Dewey began visiting me back, and we developed a bloggy friendship as these things go. That’s the thing: she was a bit of a book blogging rock star, but she was also so nice! She had seemingly boundless energy, and she devoted a lot of that to helping our community grow. She started the original read-a-thon, and I’ll always remember the utter magic of that first Saturday. She also began the Bookworms Carnival, in which a different host each time picked a theme, asked other bloggers to contribute a relevant post, and did a round-up of them all. And then there was Weekly Geeks, which she started in 2008 as a fun way for bloggers to get to know each better, with a new activity every Saturday. She must’ve visited every participant too, since she did round-ups of the previous week! She obviously loved blogging, and that love was infectious.
But as much as she loved blogging, she loved books even more. I was going through her blog in my feed reader the other night, and a post she published on November 12th, two weeks before she passed, really jumped out at me. It’s short, so I’ll share it here. It’s entitled “possibly exaggerated, but heartfelt”:
- The other day, I came across this short conversation from January of this year. Obviously, I censored people’s names.
Friend 1: Say, Friend 2, I think we may have discussed this before but are you a strictly nonfiction type of person, or is that just what you’re reading right now?
Friend 2: I basically don’t have time to read fiction.
Dewey: I would give up sleep, food, and conversation with other humans before fiction. I would almost definitely choose being homeless before choosing to be fictionless. I’m thinking about water. That would give me only three remaining days for fiction, but could be worth it.
Oh Dewey. She introduced me to so many great books, fiction and nonfiction. She loved gushing about her favourite authors, and she was also a huge proponent of graphic novels, ‘young adult’ books, and feminism. Whenever Dewey would post about a book, even a book I had no interest in beforehand, I’d suddenly find myself adding it to my wishlist; she was convincing. ;) And I have a couple books on my shelves that came from her. You see, if the book she was reviewing was one that she owned, she gave it away to one of the commenters. Not in some kind of grand ‘giveaway’ style with points and re-tellings and publicity, but just as a matter of course. That’s the type of woman she was.
If you never got to ‘meet’ Dewey, or if you wonder why some bloggers have the memorial button, I hope that this gives you a bit of an idea about how wonderful she was. Dewey’s influence came from her energy, her brilliant ideas, her friendliness, her wonderful way of writing about books, her genuine goodness. Unfortunately, as I mentioned her site was self-hosted and has been taken down. However, if you add her feed address (http://deweymonster.com/?feed=rss2) to your reader, you should be able to read her archives. Alternatively, you could use the Internet Archive to see what they’ve saved of her blog (http://deweymonster.com).
I’ve kept this impersonal, simply because I used all of the words I had to describe my grief last year. Nothing has changed since then. She is still a role model to me, and I often wish I could send her an e-mail about a great book I think she’d love or something going on in my life to get her advice or support or humour. I miss her tremendously, both personally and in the blogosphere. But even with that hurt, I am still so glad that I had the chance to know her and call her my friend. Here’s to you, Dewey, and your thriving legacy.
I debated long and hard as to whether to turn the comments off on this post. Last year, I couldn’t bring myself to reply to any comments, because I kept bursting into tears. But Dewey was all about community, and I want her memory to stay alive amongst us. So I’ve left the comments open: feel free to share your own Dewey stories, add links to posts you’ve written about her, etc. so that bloggers who didn’t know her can learn more. I plan on linking my button to this post so I see it as a resource for my future readers as well. That being said, I still don’t know if I’ll be able to reply to comments publicly. And please don’t feel obligated to leave a comment. If you’d like to talk with me about her, you can e-mail me: astripedarmchairATgmailDOTcom.
Also, I am taking a few days off from blogging; my hands have begun hurting me, and I’m hoping that a bit of rest will get them back to normal. So as much as I’ll miss you guys, I’m forbidding myself from typing until Sunday, with the exception of e-mails.