by John L’Heureux
from the May 6, 2019 issue of The New Yorker
After struggling with Parkinson’s disease for several years, John L’Heureux took his own life last week at the age of 84. He and his wife, Joan, carefully planned how and when, and his physician attended. Already planned was this story in The New Yorker, which is related and called “The Escape.” L’Heureux also asked that en essay, “On Death and Dignity,” be published as a companion to “The Escape.” In this essayk, L’Heureux talks about his career as a writer, going into some interesting detail of the last three stories published in The New Yorker, which is how I know his work at all. He talks about his fear as his Parkinson’s “progressed.” He ends by talking about how he and his wife looked at this decision in terms of their relationship with each other as well as their relationship with God and their religion.
As for the story, “The Escape,” I haven’t read it yet. I was more focused on the fact that an author I was growing to admire had died and that, as it turned out, he had planned it and written a thoughtful piece on the decision. But I’ve really liked L’Heureux’s three stories that appeared in the magazine over the last couple of years.
I’m a bit sad to read this one, but L’Heureux did leave us after also planning a book. His “The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast: New and Selected Stories” will be published in December.
I like how “The Escape” begins:
Eddie Prior, age twenty-one, with his black hair slick and his blue, blue eyes, enteres this story with a great clatter.
I am nervous about how Eddie Prior exits the story.
Please feel free to comment below. Let me know your thoughts on the story and on L’Heureux’s work.