A Gentlemen of the Press | Letters | Chicago Reader

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A Gentlemen of the Press

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To the editors:

I'm writing a fan letter to a man who, so far as I knew, never wrote a word that appeared in the Reader. But he's given authority to so many other voices that I've come to think of him as Chicago's wholesale Svengali. Michael Miner's Hot Type tribute to your just-departed editor Pat Clinton [September 18] made it clear how much he'll be missed in the office, but from his eminence Miner slighted the worm's-eye view of the free-lancers and tattletales for whom I have to believe Pat was an even greater godsend.

Pat was--and I guess will remain--a first-rate editor and an insightful, tactful critic. But it mattered as much to me that he was a kind, generous, and helpful voice on the phone, kind to God knows what swarms of hubris-stricken scribblers and snivelers who, with his kindness and criticism, became writers, often good writers. While working against constant deadlines and nuisances Pat had the patience to tell anyone with a bug up his butt how to make it into a story, and sometimes taught that story-bug to sing. In addition to treating his writers like people, a gift in itself, Pat treated all us nuisances like writers. He was far nicer than the Reader paid him to be, and more gifted than we often deserved.

Pat Clinton embodies a phrase no one uses anymore, because no one inspires the thought: he's a true gentleman of the press. I haven't written in the Reader in several years. But I miss Pat already.

Name withheld by request

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