Robert Kroetsch was tragically killed on June 21, 2011 in a car accident. He was 83 and an icon on Canadian literature. I don't include with that statement any regional qualifier, but he was particularly well regarded in Western Canada, specifically in Alberta.
Here's his Wikipedia entry, which calls him "the single most influential figure in Canada in introducing ideas about postmodernism." (See also my review of Re: Reading the Postmodern.)
My short story "Beginning and Endings" (from Thirteen Shades of Black and White (Turnstone, 1999) includes a reference to Kroetsch and his novel Words of My Roaring (1966), which I withdrew from the Saskatoon Public Library circa 1993.
Beginnings and endings is an idea that repeats in that novel, and it's an idea I've often repeated in my fiction, along with the question: What is a story?
Here's the passage from my story:
She was wearing the same clothes, the same stupid baseball cap on backwards. She saw me first. I was glad to see her.
I was sitting in one of the cafes, sipping a beer, reading that Kroetsch novel. Beginnings and endings. I had them on my mind.
I waved at her to come join me.
"You want something to eat?" I asked.
"Sure," she said.
I gestured to the waitress to bring a menu. The waitress was from Ireland. She was in Toronto for the summer on an employment exchange program.
"How have you been?" I asked.
"Good," she said.
She picked up the Kroetsch novel, flipped it over. On the back cover was a photograph of Kroetsch from the 1960s. He looked awful, like a real suit. Some kind of McCarthesque dinosaur. He wasn't like that at all, I knew. But that's what he looked like. Like a university lecturer. A real drag.
There are many moving tributes on him this past week. A drag he wasn't. An important figure, he was.