Sunday, January 27, 2002

Remembrances: Alan Loxterman

Recent comments from Alan Loxterman:
Both in physical appearance and with his sardonic sense of humor, I recall John Bellairs as a cross between Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Laughton.

John and the other graduate students living in International House at the University of Chicago would often have animated discussions of politics, culture, and literature, usually in John's room. Rich Perry, with his military background, was farthest to the political right and I more liberal. But it was difficult to tell where John stood politically because he would receive all declarations of personal belief or impassioned ideology with bemusement, a lift of the eyebrows, a twinkle in his eye, and a slow grin of droll condescension. John often received our heated opinions with a favorite expression of skepticism, something like "right," drawled out in slow motion, with great sarcasm.

I am reminded that he came from Marshall and that he would regale us with colorful stories about the clientele and behind the scenes in the kitchen at a well-known restaurant in Marshall where he worked, either as a busboy or waiter.

I am not surprised that John ended up writing Gothic tales. One bizarre story I remember us discussing seems to me now as perhaps Chicago's version of a graduate-school urban legend. Supposedly some graduate students paid their tuition by writing lurid teenage tales for True Confessions or sensational headliner exposes for The National Enquirer. But in those days I could certainly picture John as being one of them, bending over his typewriter late at night, banging out lies for which he was paid by the word as a follow-up to such breathless headlines as "Woman gets pregnant from phone encounter with heavy-breathing stalker!"

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