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When I place my hand in a cold pool and fingerling salmon nibble the ends of my fingers, I know the pool will freeze over and the fingerlings will live under the ice until May when the ice will thaw and the adult salmon will swim into the river’s main channel and eventually work their way out to sea. All of these things will happen of their own accord, without my doing anything about them, and for some strange reason, I take great comfort in that fact. – James Lee Burke, Swan Peak
Paul Pasternak was a James Lee Burke aficionado. The great Texas-born crime writer appealed to Paul’s deep sense of the value of words and of great story telling.
Paul, who passed away on June 4, was himself a fine communicator. Not just in the written form – though he did that very well – but in the warmth and genuineness he brought to all his dealings with people.
He was, together with his loving and much-loved wife Lois, part of the fine family team that drove Travel Markets Insider from a humble, vaguely hopeful start-up to a respected industry publication of much merit and real success.
Before and after his illness we talked much about literature – in particular, we both loved the evocative power of James Lee Burke’s tales of America’s deep south.
After Paul fell ill with cancer, he attended this year’s Duty Free Show of Americas, amazing all who encountered him with his strength and endurance – all born out of his great love for his family and his desire to support the business they had collectively created.
There, generously, he presented me with his collection of James Lee Burke novels, one aficionado to another. Despite his outer grace and avowed determination, he knew inside that he would not be needing them again. One, Swan Peak, carries a hand-written note. I will treasure it.
Paul was a big and big-hearted man, the kind of ‘rival’ who in conversation would inevitably end up mentoring me on costs, workload and family priorities rather than seeking any competitive advantage.
In his latter months Paul proved every bit as resilient and tough and good as Dave Robicheaux, the great hero of many of Lee Burke’s novels. He would like that allusion, I think. And now he can rest.
[Pictured left to right at the 2009 Duty Free Show of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale: Paul Pasternak, Lois Pasternak, Martin Moodie and Harry Diehl].