Joel Lane was a good friend for nearly thirty years. Never in robust health, he raged against the dying of the light – many different and varied lights, all sorts of dying – and now his published work must continue to do that for him.
Joel encouraged and mentored numerous writers, providing incisive and positive feedback that could only improve their work. He was loyal and unstinting with praise where he believed it to be due.
Joel was politically committed and active: he saw the lights going out and raged – but also tried to do something about it. What he was against was usually worth being against; the world he wished to live in was the sort of world that anyone should wish to live in. Joel took people and their views seriously, perhaps sometimes too seriously. He was painstaking and generous with friends and strangers alike, whatever was asked of him.
(‘For me, he was more like a conscience. He reminded me of battles unfought and pain unfelt.’ Joel Lane, “The Circus Floor”.)
Joel was a sound critical voice. In an often bloated field he knew what would endure, and why. He provided new insights on classic works and authors, especially H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Aickman, Ramsey Campbell, Fritz Leiber, and Theodore Sturgeon. Returning to these authors after Joel had written about them was to see them from fresh, and refreshing, angles.
Joel relished evenings in the pub (the particular one changed as things such as the owner, the quality of the beer, the policy on music, and opening times changed) discussing new and old stories, famous and unknown authors, current lunacies at large in society, and anything… His puns and limericks were atrocious, and often even spontaneous.
A few random recollections: Those garish shirts. The infinite supply of carrier bags. His utter unselfconsciousness. The ability to quote song lyrics by the yard. Puns again. Printouts of draft poems.
A brick has been removed from the wall, from near the foundations. It won’t collapse, but there’s a gap now.
Not a Shirley Jackson biopic, but...
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