Writing about a writer who has just died is a particularly difficult thing to do. Especially when you are a writer. It’s too complicated to explain so I won’t even try.
People who knew W.P. Kinsella called him “Bill,” but I wasn’t fortunate enough to ever meet him—we did exchange a few pleasantries on Facebook—but to me, he will always be W.P.—a writer who had a unique style, an ability to turn paragraphs into poetry. It seemed ridiculous the first time I tried to read Box Socials, set it aside, picked it up again. Once I caught on to his storytelling style, I read everything he wrote.
I suspect that everyone else who writes about him over the next few days will talk about his famous books, the ones that were adapted for television and film. But this morning when the news that he died hit my newsfeed, and I started to tear up, those weren’t the books that came to mind. W.P. wrote The Winter Helen Dropped By, and while seldom (never?) is it mentioned, this novel is one fine piece of storytelling. It was published just a few years before the head injury that apparently took away his desire to write. Knowing there are worse fates than death, I believe that is one of them.
The ability to create real or imaginary worlds and people that live on forever is a powerful thing. Sometimes we can start to believe that we can write our own endings. Controversial as ever, that is exactly what W.P. did yesterday afternoon when he opted for doctor-assisted suicide, now an option for Canadians suffering from deteriorating health.
Rest in peace W.P. Kinsella. Know that your beloved characters will never be forgotten.