I was quite saddened yesterday to hear that Peter Benchley had died.
Jaws was the first adult book I read. As a fourth grader, I was drawn in by the cover, which is my favorite of all time. I shoved a chair over to my parents' bookshelf so I could reach the book, which they kept on the top shelf beside Valley of the Horses (which would provide an entirely different kind of education for me a few months later). I absolutely loved Jaws, and went on to read all of Benchley's work. I wrote him a letter saying how much I liked Jaws, Jaws II, The Island and The Deep, and he wrote back thanking me, but saying he couldn't take credit for Jaws II, as he didn't write it. So much for my impressing him with my precociousness. I kept a written correspondence with him through high school and college, telling him I wanted to be a writer, and I sent him an ARC of The Tower when it was published. He wrote me a very kind congratulatory note.
He was a very bright man with an abiding love of the ocean. The water has never been the same....