Various blogs I read alerted me to the fact that columnist Cathy Seipp is in the hospital, near death, and with no hope of recovery. The news saddened me greatly. I had heard she’d had breast cancer*, but I’d always assumed she’d recovered, because, well, I’d always thought of her as one of those writers who gets old, and crustier and even better in the process.
She was kind of a peculiar muse to me. As an L.A.-based writer, she often commented on things that happened in California, but she was always a little off on the nuances of San Francisco. In response to her column about the City Lights bookstore clerk who dissed a friend of hers for requesting an Oriana Fallaci book, I pointed out that many of the independent bookstores in San Francisco, including City Lights, have a leftist political orientation, in different flavors. She blamed the fatal dog mauling of Diana Whipple on San Franciscans’ laissez-faire indifference to vicious dogs; I countered that badly-behaved dogs are inconcievable in San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods. That said, her ideas weren’t wrong: after all, bookstore clerks have no business dissing city visitors; and we shouldn’t be afraid to report bad dogs, or people, even if the SFPD will simply indifferently file the report.
I will miss her writing, her opinions, her voice. It is far too early for her to leave this world behind.
*Update: Several astute readers have pointed out that Cathy Seipp is dying of lung cancer, not breast cancer. Tragic either way; thanks to all for the correction.
Update: Cathy Seipp has passed away, too young, too soon.