I was crushed to hear of Michael Crichton's passing today. I had no idea he had been stricken with cancer, and then read-with no surprise-that his illness was kept private. He was a man of extraordinary good sense and class, and his books and essays reflected that.
I've read just about every book Crichton had written, and was a huge fan. I was sucked in by The Andromeda Strain when I was in eighth grade, unable to put the book down for the two days it took me to read it. I stuck it in textbooks and read it with stealth during class. Because she was a nurse, my mother nudged me towards his Five Patients next, followed by A Case of Need.
I was fascinated at how many lives this man led, he had seemingly packed six extraordinary lifetimes into one. In his book Travels, Crichton gives us an autobiographical glimpse into that life which included Harvard Medical School and ultimate disillusionment with the practice of medicine, his extreme travel pursuits, and his career as a moviemaker.
When I was nine months pregnant with Alex, I went to see Jurassic Parkwith my husband and inlaws. I went into labor the next morning and gave birth the following day. I loved that movie, even though it wasn't a very close adaptation of the novel. It brought together one of my favorite directors and best loved writers and resulted in one of my most cherished films. In spite of it's blockbuster success and magnificent special effects, it's the story that captures me and the pitch perfect wonder on the actors' faces when they first encounter the dinosaurs that puts a lump in my throat. It's a wonderful cautionary tale about the arrogance of human intrusion into nature.
That scene exemplifies everything that I love about movies.
Michael Crichton's website is experiencing understandably high traffic this evening, but I would urge you to become familiar with some of his essays, a medium that I think best suited his writing style. One of my favorite of his essays is an almost twenty year old selection originally published in Redbook magazine. I find it a fitting and timeless message, especially poignant given our current economic climate. The website restricts republishing without permission, so I encourage you to hit refresh until you can access the busy webpage. The essay is Happiness, and it originally appeared in Redbook in 1991.