This week, I farewelled an old friend, 79 year old Bryce Courtenay.
Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting this legendary author – he left a lasting impression that can never be shaken. When I heard of his stomach cancer diagnosis I was saddened, but when I saw his public face I was moved and could not have had more admiration for this man. He knew that his time on earth was limited, but he believed he lucked out, “I can’t believe it, even in death I’ve lucked out!”
As an ex-advertising guy, who was downing a few bottles of wine a day, smoking plenty of cigarettes & highly stressed – he was able to see that his lifestyle would lead to his demise. Instead, he bravely decided to leave his 34 year successful stint in ad-land, to become an author. His first novel, The Power Of One, the one he feared would never sell, not only sold for plenty in New York, but today is still the favourite of many.
Described by many as a born story-teller, “a latter-day Charles Dickens” – loved by Australians and the world, he himself, was a great character. 21 novels in 24 years (including best-sellers), a feat in itself that no writer now or in the future may rival, he wrote for the people and in return, the people lapped up his words. He copped his fair share of criticism, but took it all in his stride and cheekily had words to say in return.
Forever a cheerful spirit and a brave face, even in the face of death. Bryce, may your next chapter be as magical as the stories you told.