Jay Lake

Most of you have probably seen in one or more places already that Jay Lake passed away, after a long . . .

I don’t actually know how to finish that sentence. The usual phrase is “battle with cancer,” but Jay had opinions on that metaphor and its flaws. I remember him noting that it would be more precise to say he was the battlefield of cancer.

Last December I sent him an email with a link to a song that made me think of him. The email was much larded about with warnings that the song was about death, and I would totally understand if that was something he thought about enough already; I had no way of judging whether this would be of interest to him or one straw too many. He wrote back to say he did indeed like the song, which I had described as sort of “an atheist anthem about the afterlife.” Jay was a committed atheist — he had no belief that he would persist after he died — but this is an afterlife I think he could believe in:

But I place one foot before the other, confident because
I know that everything we are right now is everything that was

(Full lyrics here.)

I didn’t know Jay nearly as well as many of the people memorializing him today. I met him at ICFA and hung out with him there on several occasions; I showed up to various dinners and such when he came to the Bay Area, or would say hi to him in passing at conventions. Diana Sherman and I once chased him through a room party at World Fantasy describing the anthology concept we’d had over dinner, until he suddenly turned and began declaiming ex tempore the epic charge of the war elephants across the fields of Gettysburg. (Another reason to be sad Jay is gone: we never did get that anthology off the ground, and if it happens eventually it will not have the title story from Jay that it deserved.) He had an expansive personality, boundless energy, and a faster wit than probably any human being I’ve ever met.

Cancer is a thief, taking those things from Jay, from all of us. If you want to do something for Jay, and for what he fought for, make a donation here:

Clayton Memorial Medical Fund
P.O. Box 5703
Portland, Oregon 97228

Jay is gone, but he is remembered; he remains.

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