I met Mal Peet when his gorgeous, expansive novel Life: An Exploded Diagram won a Boston Globe Horn Book Honor the year I served on the jury. I sat beside him at dinner after the Awards ceremony, and reveled in his gruff, take-no-prisoners affability. He somehow managed to be warm and exacting, all at once. It’s that quality that I love so much about his work. His observations are searing and precise, yet grounded in an unmistakable affection.
And boy, howdy, could he spin a sentence.
He got a late start in the author business–his first novel was published when he was 56–but he leaves behind a wonderful body of work defined by its ambition and uniform quality.
Mal Peet died Monday at the age of 67. I’m going to revisit some of his writing today. You should, too.