Missing Chuck Bowden

Richard Grant recently wrote a lovely essay in Aeon about the late writer Charles Bowden. I had the pleasure of meeting Bowden one evening in New York, when I was an editor at Orion magazine. Bowden had come to receive the Orion Book Award, and I was head of the committee that had determined he should have it (the other members were far more illustrious than I, and included the authors Karen Russell and Ted Genoways). Bowden was gruff and charming and didn't speak nearly long enough in the Chelsea art gallery where we staged the event. He was more interested in going to get a drink, which we did beforehand and after. The prize committee read a lot of good books before we decided to give Bowden the nod, but there was no doubt in our collective mind that he deserved it. Bowden was fearless as a journalist, often putting his life at risk as he dove into the dangers of the Mexican - U.S. borderlands. But he was fearless as a writer, too, fearless in his love of things he loved and his expression of it. The results can take your breath away. Bowden died last year, too soon by my reckoning. He remains worth reading if you want to see what whole-hearted commitment to reporting and telling a story looks like on the page.