There were so many of us in 1968, joined to battle the Vietnam War by helping Eugene McCarthy run for president. We lost the Senator several years ago, and Eli Segal, one of the best, soon after. Today I learned of the loss of another of the dear ones, Eden Ross Lipson. She died this morning of pancreatic cancer. You can see from this photo that she was a woman who relished life and laughter. Her greatest joys: her husband and her kids.
Although we shared a history from the campaign, we also shared some great lunches and adventures in Manhattan, where she had dozens of friends who loved and respected her. Principled and kind, she was a joy and support to so many.
In her work as Children's Book Editor of the New York Times Book Review, Eden produced what is still the classic work on children's literature. I knew her as she wrote the first edition; it was a real labor of love. Her understanding of kids, of books and of writing and purpose made her an ideal guide for anxious parents and savvy librarians alike.
Her generosity went far beyond the love of children that made her such a great advocate for the joy they would find in their books. It was she who gave me my first review assignment and it led to an entire side career as a book reviewer that lasted for years. She was a tough and smart editor, too.
I remember my review of one of my favorites: Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic. A time-travel Holocaust story, it is a beautiful book. I submitted a very positive review. Soon after, Eden called. In a tone slipping between amused and professional, she reminded me that not all parents were as open as I was, and that I needed to add some kind of caution to parents who were more protective about at what age their kids were exposed to tough information. She was right, of course. I began an embarrassed apology. Her response: if people didn't need editors she wouldn't have a job! I fixed the piece and it ran. Later, it was Eden who connected me with the editor who published my first book. She did it, as she did all things, with no expectation of reciprocal benefit. These sorts of things are typical of the warmth and kindness she showed to everyone who knew her.
Life is strange. Eden was someone I knew, respected and cared about. I lost touch with her, as with so many others, when we moved to Los Angeles. My life then just didn't allow for working to stay connected; there were hard things happening and they made it difficult to think outside the immediate circumstances of my life. And so I'm doubly sad as I struggle to write about a woman with such a mind, and a spirit, and a heart.
I'm comforted to know, though, that she had friends and family around her, supportive and caring, in her last days. That's no surprise; it's what she offered so many others.