RIP Steve Krauzer, “Paperback Writer”

Soon after I moved to Missoula, I started working (very occasionally) for the University of Montana, as a grader for the writing test that all students must pass before graduating. As this work continued, periodically, over the last year and a half, I got to know another regular grader, Steve Krauzer, a fellow easterner, about 60, who had moved to Missoula in the 1970s.

I saw Steve’s obituary in today’s Missoulian ; he apparently died almost two weeks ago. “Friends said he was in fragile health,” writes the anonymous obituarist, and I must say this was evident to me when he and I last worked together.

It’s sad to see the death of any friend, but it’s even sadder to learn only from his obituary what an interesting life he led: prolific writer and collector of pulp and Western fiction, screenwriter on two Roger Corman movies, magazine columnist.

In a day job “as a transmitter technician in Missoula, he snowmobiled weekly to the summit of Television Mountain…” Perhaps those weekly trips whetted his appetite for “the first known sled descent of Mount Jumbo,” described as “a half-mile ‘luge run'”; regular Outside contributor Peter Stark helped him “survey, clear, bank and ice the run.”

The accomplishment of the “luge run” seems all the more impressive for the fact that Steve was apparently not a natural athlete. His fellow softball players on the local rec-league team “Montana Review of Books” dubbed him “Merc, short for Mercury, because he reminded none of his teammates of the fleet Roman god.” But that didn’t stop him from eventually becoming “an adept all-around waterman, especially an able and enthusiastic – if not artistic – rafter and kayaker.”

As for writing: “Though well-versed in the Great Works, his real literary love was pulp fiction”; a writer of the stuff himself, he was in “the ‘her body would make a bishop put his foot through a stained-glass window’ school.” Further, “he believed that the point of fiction was to entertain…” and once observed that “big-time stylists impress me like big-time bus drivers.”

Oh, and: “He could finish the New York Times crossword puzzle before you could uncap your pen.”

I hope my obituary is half as interesting. So long, Steve, I’m glad we met.