“Sometimes in this life, you meet people who you might call large-souled… who are a privilege to know.”
I am absolutely gutted to report that my friend Joseph S. Pulver SR died today. Joe was 64 years old.
I keep writing things here, then erasing them. The fact is, I can’t think clearly today. And anything I write is not enough to express my feelings about one of my very best friends.
Of course, I wasn’t his only friend. Joe was open. Joe was giving. And he was extremely supportive of other writers, editors, and publishers.
I’m glad Joe’s pain is over and that he is now at peace. At the same time, I keep thinking of the lyrics to Fire and Rain by James Taylor:
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again
Joe, my brother. I always thought I’d see you again.
Joe was struggling for a long time physically. Before that, he was a regular contributor to The Lovecraft eZine podcast. In addition to the podcast, I spent hundreds of hours over the years chatting with him via video calls. It was the next best thing to being in the room with him.
I always thought — hoped — that he would be back. In the words of the song, that I would see him again.
In fact, on the March 1st eZine Podcast this year, Joe and Kat were able to drop by and chat for a few minutes (position 1:30:45). He was obviously very tired, but he was lucid. One of the last things he said was “I’ll be back, as soon as I can.”
I can’t think about that without it tearing me up inside. I really believed it would happen.
Joe’s wife Kat has had to be so, so strong. Here’s something she’d like to do (the following are her words):
The more realistic plan (I hope) is to create something akin to “Wilum’s Bench” in Portland, in tandem with something for Stan Sargent. We all know that Joe considered the HPLFF his summer-camp. Portland was his home away from home… I am hoping to rely on the collective power of the HPLFF and Lovecraft eZine crowd – as one last gesture. I have a retainer set up at my “company” account email@example.com and could send the funds that come in (if they come in) to anyone’s PayPal. I love all of you guys and I am so sorry for the terrible news.
I’m sure a plan will form, but for now, you can contribute to that cause by sending funds to firstname.lastname@example.org via PayPal.
April 16, 2016 was designated PULVER DAY by Mike Griffin. He asked some of us to write tributes to Joe, and the results were grand. There are links to all of them here. Joe was very much with us at the time, and got a real kick out of it. I applaud Mike Griffin for organizing something like this then, instead of waiting until a time came that Joe could not read them.
Anyway, the first part of my offering to PULVER DAY was decidedly tongue in cheek. The last few paragraphs, not so much. Here they are, and I hope you can take some comfort from them:
I spent many an hour with my friend Joe that way (video-chats), talking about weird fiction, horror… you name it.
He’s gone now, but we still have his work. He lives on through his books, and he continues to inspire this new generation of weird fiction writers. I know, because I’ve heard them talk about him.
And lately, I’ve heard something else. One last tale, you might say.
They say that sometimes, long after midnight, when the writing block sets in and everything feels hopeless, when they feel that perhaps they aren’t cut out to be writers, when a gibbous moon hangs in the sky and the stars almost look black… something strange happens. Their computer monitor flickers, and then a window opens on a corner of the screen.
At first, all is dark. Then, a match flares and a man with a white beard and a drooping mustache lights a cigarette. He’s sitting at a desk. Bookshelves tower over him. He glares, and they can feel his eyes boring into them, through cables and wifi and time and space.
And then he speaks.
“Bleed,” he says to them. “Bleed on the page.”
I love and miss you, Joe. And I always will.
If you’ve read this far, then I’m going to leave you with a couple of quotes from one of my favorite films, Arrival. For whatever reason, I find them comforting when thinking of Joe:
“But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life.”
“Despite knowing the journey… and where it leads… I embrace it… and I welcome every moment of it.”
Thanks for reading.
— Mike Davis
(Forgive the August vs April mistake. As I said, I can’t concentrate today. Joe died today, April 24, 2020.)
(The first quote on this page is from Sherlock Holmes, “The Abbey Grange”.)