This morning I was delighted to see a message in my inbox from one of my oldest writing friends, Peter Morgan. When I opened it I was shocked to find a message from his wife Wynne stating that Peter had passed away suddenly last Thursday, shortly after celebrating his 85th birthday in apparent good health.
A former editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Peter was something of a polymath: physician, scientist, author and composer. A scholar of immense intellect, he once picked up on an extremely obscure reference to the Finnish national epic *The Kalevala* in one of my stories, and asked me without a trace of irony, "Do you speak Finnish?" For the record I do not.
Peter wrote beautifully, although often a bit over the head of the average reader. His prose was graceful and vivid, his landscapes were richly imagined and populated with complex characters. I critiqued his book *Words of the Papermaker*, which he self-published under the pen name "Peter G. Angelin" -- prematurely I thought. It was one of those works of immense promise that was also unfortunately of equally immense size and complexity, tipping the scale at over three hundred thousand words. He had serious interest from literary agents, but the scope of the thing made it unpublishable in its current form.
After we'd spent a few months batting around the structural issues with the story, Peter was ready to restructure it to be more commercially viable. But he set his novel aside for a while to finish his opera and the book remained on the back burner this year as he worked on recordings of his compositions. It saddens me that *Words of the Papermaker* will never take the final form Peter envisioned for it but, I am very happy to report that his opera, *Open House*, premiered successfully last year.
Peter and I have been corresponding a bit less this year or so because of the different projects we've been working on, but every so often one of us would shoot the other a line. It's hard to believe I won't be hearing from him again, that he's not there for a quick opinion if I need one. It seems ironic to think of a life of eighty-five years as being "cut short", but that's how I feel, like the world has been cheated. If I had to characterize Peter's imagination in a single word, that word would be "Promethean". As many days as he might have lived, he would have created something new and interesting and unexpected.
One of the lasting impressions Peter has made on me is as a manuscript critic. Peter put great effort into his critiques. They were thoughtful and perceptive, generous yet completely honest. Peter wrote meaty critiques a writer could sink his teeth into. Peter's critiques are the benchmark I consciously aim for when doing my own.
And what better thing can you say about a man than he changed you for the better?
Posts: 1295 | Registered: Dec 2010
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Dr Morgan sounded like a man who was a credit to the human race.
You seem to have known him, and his manuscript, quite well. Have you considered approaching Mrs Morgan for permission to complete it? She may appreciate the offer. It would be a chance to help immortalize him in another outlet.
Posts: 3072 | Registered: Dec 2007
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