Last Tuesday night, the marvelous Norma Howe passed away. I’d known Norma for decades, ever since an envelop came across my desk at Henry Holt. A manuscript came to me that, I later learned, had gone to 20 different editors — in fact it had been to Holt I believe, before I got there, so the manuscript and I had to go in circles before we met each other — which is a very Norma story. The book was The Adventures of Blue Avenger — a book that was smart, funny, caring, ahead of its time — just, in all ways, wonderful, and Norma. I got to publish it — as well as two more Blue books, and, most recently Angel in Vegas. Norma was always thinking about coincidence and mysteries — but she was the most clear eyed skeptic. She was a scientific rationalist with a twinkle in her eye. And then there was the matter of her age.
Norma was a grandmother many times over when I met her back in the 90s, but she always seemed younger than anyone else, and more in tune with young teenagers. She knew kids so well, so clearly, so lovingly, and with such wit. And that is why it is hard to think of her as not here. She didn’t change — she was the woman who didn’t smoke but, with her husband Bob, collected over 20,000 ash trays — because they were interesting. Who kept sacks of walnuts and almonds in her home, because they were good and she liked having them. She and Bob would share fractions of doughnuts every day — keeping to diets and feeding their love affair with doughnuts. They would travel the world — she loved Venice and Paris — and, in a way, Las Vegas. And then she would have a clever, loving, smart, idea for a new book — and we’d go on another writing adventure together.
She was great, her books are great — read them — and writing about you, Norma, makes you feel all the more here — it is hard to miss you but in a way I don’t — I see you.