Friday, January 13, 2017

May Your Soul Rest in Peace, William Peter Blatty

I was sad to hear the news that author and filmmaker William Peter Blatty died yesterday at the age of 89. His novel, The Exorcist, was one of the most frightening books I've ever read, and the movie of the same name gave me chills. 

Note: While the setting for the novel The Exorcist was Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., according to many, the story was based on an actual exorcism performed in 1949 in St. Louis, Missouri

Several years ago, when I wrote book reviews for Bookreporter.com, I was assigned to review Blatty's novel Dimiter.

 In my Bookreporter review I described Dimiter as "enigmatic, compelling, and beguiling. Part mystery and part spiritual thriller  . . . rich in detail and written with wisdom and grace."

At the end of my review I mentioned a minor detail in the novel that puzzled me. I wasn't sure if I should even comment on it. After all Mr. Blatty was an award-winning writer who won an Academy Award. Who was I to point out a mistake? Yet, I felt an obligation to readers to be completely honest in my review.

A few months later, I received an e-mail from someone whose address I didn't recognize. I scanned the e-mail quickly then started to delete it. But I paused and read it a few more times before realizing it was for real.

The e-mail was from Mr. Blatty himself, who thanked me not only for my review, but also for pointing out his mistake, which, he wrote, had been missed by him and several editors but would be corrected on the next print run.

Receiving his e-mail made me realize what a gracious and talented writer Mr. Blatty was.

May your soul rest in peace, William Peter Blatty. You were not only a gifted writer, but also a humble and generous man whose work inspired many.

21 comments:

  1. Donna--I'm curious. What kind of mistake was it?

    I never read the book, but the movie WAS terrifying. Perhaps I should put the book on the "must read" list?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sioux,
      I should've mentioned the mistake was included in the last paragraph of the review, which is at the Bookreporter link.
      Briefly, one of the minor character's age remained the same after more than a year had passed.

      Delete
  2. I read The Exorcist, and it was so terrifying that I still will not watch the movie, or any commercial for the movie!

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  3. I avoided seeing this film because I did not want to be afraid! I'm a pansy when it comes to fear.

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  4. That is SO cool that he contacted you! I had no idea he'd died. When we were in D.C. last year, I wanted to see the staircase from the movie, but Georgetown was too far out of the way from the other places we were visiting.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Stephanie,
      It was very cool that he sent the e-mail.

      Delete
  5. Hi Donna! I had not heard of the passing of Mr. Blattty, thank you for telling me. But what an amazing story you have about him! Good for you for sticking to your impressions of the book. I think it's a sign of a great writer, one who can admit there's an error. I'm so glad you didn't delete that email!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ceil,
      Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad I didn't delete it either.

      Delete
  6. What a gracious email! And such a nice way to be remembered. You just never know how or when our words will touch someone. :)

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  7. What a wonderful story! I hope any author would be gracious over getting such constructive feedback. After all, I'm sure his book had additional printings. Being able to make the correction in new copies would be a good thing.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pat,
      It was a very gracious gesture. No wonder he was such a successful writer.

      Delete
  8. How memorable that an author who was a Hollywood celebrity took the time to write you and so graciously; but then your review was gracious and honest as well. It sounds as if Dimiter was an absorbing and thought-provoking read.

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    1. Hi Clara,
      It was a big surprise getting the e-mail from him!

      Delete
  9. Donna: This is a really cool story. That he took time to read reviews and then also thank people for finding mistakes. What a great man! But I can't watch or read The Exorcist.

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  10. Wow, how interesting that he took the time to contact you! And what a nice memory for you. :) I guess no matter how far we've come, we are still human, subject to errors at times.

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  11. Hi Donna - just met you via Karen and her 'Meet the Blogger' ...and I concur with Karen's comment ... we're all human and how lovely he was so humble too. Sorry for his loss - but he's made his mark ... the Exorcist is not a film I've seen or wish to see! But obviously he was a talented author ... cheers Hilary

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