My buddy Tim Mizelle died almost three weeks ago. I still fight the impulse to message him, several times a day: the Residents and Biosphere have new albums out, have you heard them? That novella you recommended by Adolpho Bioy Casares was amazing, and so on. It’s going to be a while before that impulse goes away.
Tim was a gifted and insightful writer. Yes, his emails were hilarious, but he also wrote Washerbaum the Crestfallen for the Paris Review. The freaking Paris Review. Before I knew him he was a writing teacher. He was certainly one of the best read people I’ve encountered. Tim introduced me to too many authors to list here – it will take me years to run down all of the books he recommended, but I will – I kept a list. Books were at the heart of our friendship.
We exchanged emails and messages for years. We could burn through an hour talking about the attributes of various pens. There were gaps in our conversation, when he was going through bad patches with his health, but when we reconnected, we picked up the thread as though nothing had happened.
Tim’s friendship came with many gifts. He shared his love of writing and reading. He generously shared his plans for his future work and was unstinting in his encouragement of mine. He wrote poems to some of my drawings.
Some time around 2010, Tim invited me to join him, and Elizabeth, his wife, in a collaborative writing project, eventually titled The Grand Lie. True to his nature, Tim saw this project as one in a cycle of several novels. He had already started drafting plans for the others. He was an erudite and dizzying collaborator. TGL, as yet unpublished, remains a creative landmark for me. I’ve always loved to write, but the excitement and process of working on TGL with Tim and Elizabeth provided the shove I needed to go on and complete novels of my own.
Ultimately though, it’s Tim the person I’ll miss the most, the husband and dad who loved to talk about his family, his sense of humor and his generosity.
Rest in peace my friend.