First Norman Mailer, then Ira Levin. Now comes the sudden news that Emerson Lasalle has died.
I was a big fan of Emerson Lasalle, both the novelist and the unreconstructed literary figure. One of my favorite Lasalle stories holds that the legendary pulp writer, in the mid-1970’s, sucker punched Theodore Geisel outside a men’s room in La Jolla, California. This incident is said to have occured after a long day drinking at the track during a rare fallow period in Lasalle’s career. According to legend, a disoriented Lasalle told police officers, “I thought that was Armi Kuusela.”
As a writer, what I like most about this story is its addendum: Lasalle’s Nebula Award-winning The Mutants of Dr. Zeus was published just six months later, ushering in what scholars consider to be Lasalle’s third Golden Age.
It’s been a dark week for American letters.