Time To Walk The Walk: RIP, Andrew Vachss (b. 1942) and RIP, 2021

The Universe™ really does have a way of showing you, doesn’t it?

Only a few hours ago, I was still swimming in my typical holiday/year-end blues. This year it was exaserbated by the ongoing End of the World™ (which—spoilers—turns out to be equal parts: environmental collapse, plague, and impending fascism) and I was topping it all off by fretting that I lacked the impetus to publish some kind of “2021 Wrap-up” blog post. Because, you know, the only thing better than a diary entry as self-therapy is feeling guilty for not doing one!

And, just as for many others, for me this was all amplified by the dread arrival of 2022; this is because, like the joke goes, it always looks darkest right before it goes completely black. 

Then I was forcibly refocused: I found out that one of my personal heroes, the great Andrew Vachss, had just died.

So, at least now I know my topic.

Andrew Vachss, HS Senior, 1960.

It isn’t an overstatement to say the man’s life was a study in heroism. During his formative young adult years—before becoming an attorney who represented strictly abused children—he held other front-line positions in child protection. He was a humanitarian aid activist in the Biarfran War, an U.S. Federal Investigator for STD tracking, and also a New York City social-services caseworker. He started and ran a self-help center for urban migrants in Chicago and directed a max-security prison for violent juvie offenders.

That was where he got the meat for his 1973 novel A Bomb Built in Hell. It was rejected by every publisher, one of whom described it as a “political horror story.” Others berated it for its “lack of realism”. But, get this:

…The subject matter was a child who entered his high school for the purpose of killing everyone. 

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