Harvey Pekar Z”TL


Fig. 1.

A MOMENT OF SILENCE WOULD be inappropriate to mark the death this morning of autobiographer, comix legend and music critic Harvey Pekar, since (depending on your view) the former Cleveland Heights resident is right now either a) arguing with “God,” b) planting one on Billie Holiday, or c) sitting around saying, “NOW what?”

Pekar’s gift for depicting the epic struggles of everyday life was mostly channeled into his comic, “American Splendor” (later a 2004 movie auteured by Paul Giamatti), itself inspired by a friendship with the young R.Crumb. His unsentimental and award-winning prose had the brutal honesty and tender insight of a Joyce or a Steinbeck, had those gentlemen worked at Cleveland’s V.A. hospital or tangled with David Letterman. Unlike many compulsive autobiographers, Harvey himself didn’t flinch from writing about his own less-than admirable side. That’s what it means to be Pekaresquely human: to accept our flaws and brokenness as the price for a wonderful sunset, cold beer, arguing with friends and everything else worthwhile on this side of the grave.

“Zecher tzaddik livracha — the memory of the righteous is a blessing.” We’re gonna miss you, Harvey. Thanks for showing us that it’s the little things that count — and that they’re not so little after all.

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One Response to Harvey Pekar Z”TL

  1. Patricia Ann Clark on 2010.07.12 at 1422

    He was a brilliant observationist; I don’t know whether he was still writing, as I hadn’t read any of his stuff in a long time, but he will definitely be missed. Geez, too young to go.

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