Monday, February 13, 2006

Peter Benchley

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....


Aquaryan said...


I was shocked to hear about his death, as well.

Every time that I go near the water (even if it was a swimming pool), I thought of JAWS.

Today's writers, like yourself, have many fans who appreciate all that you give to us in return. Good stories to read. Friendly emails. Interesting blogs. Smiling at book signings and listening to the same lines over and over again, "I am your biggest fan!"

Take Care, Gregg! All the best to you and your family. Keep on Writing!


PS: Happy Valentine's Day

Tania said...

I was instantly captivated by the cover of Jaws, but being young, I was intimidated by the size of the book. I decided to give it a try, and fell in love with his writing just a few pages in.

It sounds like he was as good of a man as he was a writer. His death is a real loss.

Herm Melville said...

To those folks who say everything happens for a reason, I say Benchley's untimely passing is evidence to the contrary.

A side note: He was smart to have the fish get it in the end. If I'd done that maybe Moby-Freaking-Dick would have sold more than two thousand copies when I was alive.

lorenzo212 said...

The official Jaws For Life Adoration Society, which meets only when members are sober so we can get sh*t-faced again on Narraganssett-type beer and recite favorite passages of JAWS, held an on the beach party to celebrate that Mr. Benchley was joining Chrissie Watkins and Mr. Quint in Heaven, and together,they could look down and spit on Hooper in hell. We toasted Mr. Benchley all night, and set cheap, yellow plastic, Alex Kintner type floats out to sea, after we lit them afire. And we cursed the fact that in the movie, Brody's wife didn't end up with the fishes. Needless to say, the local police helicopter, lifeguard station, and passersby joined in the celebration. One old guard commented that the summer of Jaws the book, and the movie, were the lowest drowning years on record in the Beach cities. Mr. Benchley, we lift our drinks as you lifted our spirits, and still, we can't do you the appreciation deserved. Here's to a story that became a bible for the fun in our lives.