Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Daniel Robert Epstein: R.I.P.

Last week, I got a startling email first thing in the morning from Robert Kurtzman, asking me what happened to Dan Epstein and that he was sorry to hear about it. Being that early, my brain couldn't grasp the question. A few minutes later, I found out the news: writer Daniel Robert Epstein had died of unknown causes.

I didn't know Daniel that well. He was one of the reviewers I sent screeners to and I had arranged a couple of interviews for him for Suicide Girls. He'd interviewed a lot of terrific people for S.G. including Cronenberg and Terry Gilliam, and, for me, was the only reason to visit that particular site. I was very eager to get him to write for me for Sirens, but his schedule never coincided with ours. The first thing you'll notice, reading his work, is his easy-going, conversational interviewing style. He wasn't a cut-n-paste guy; his interviews had depth to them. That was the chief reason I wanted him. You don't see that type of quality on web magazines that often.

But, because we were only email acquaintances, I don't know any of his friends or family and I have no idea how or why he died. He was a few years younger than I am, so that sent a shiver through me. I'm not ready to reach that point in my life where funerals start becoming a staple. Earlier in the year, we lost a good acquaintance, a filmmaker named Joe Casey. We're working on finishing Joe's last film, an anthology we contributed to called Brinke's Tales of Horror, as a tribute to Joe. I don't have a tribute in mind for Daniel. Part of me feels slightly, and guiltily, relieved that we hadn't become closer friends. It's a selfish feeling - utterly selfish. But we don't mourn for the sake of the dead; we mourn for our own loss. If the nuns and priests and other spiritual leaders are to be believed, Joe and Daniel are in a much better place right now and it is the rest of us who are worse off for their passing.

As far as Daniel goes, the journalistic world is certainly worse off. He'd raised the bar pretty high as far as interviewing goes. Any of you want to learn how it's done, read his work over at Suicide Girls. My sympathies go out to his family.

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