Matt was the bravest writer I’ve ever known. He covered conflict, climbed mountains, and followed in the exploratory footsteps of so many unfortunate travelers of yore in order to write his own account of what such trips felt like today, to a modern consciousness. This last piece was his specialty. They were why we read him, why people sent him places. He did those pieces better than anyone. Matt was living testimony to a core belief of mine, a belief shaped by my many conversations on the subject with Matt: If you travel, you must trust. Openness is not gullibility. A willingness to be vulnerable does not endanger you.
I suspect there was no place Matt wouldn’t go, no kind of person he wouldn’t want to meet. Through his talent and bravery, he took me and his thousands upon thousands of devoted readers around the world, to some of its loveliest, and most luckless, places.
I loved Matt. We all loved Matt. I have literally never heard an unkind word about him. He was like a distant and impossibly peregrinative brother to so many of us, always rushing off to – or coming back from – some brighter, more tropical place, a bag of dirty laundry slung over his shoulder, his notebook exploding with his bright, sharp, generous impressions.
Writing is smaller today, literature is smaller, and my life is smaller, as are the lives of all who knew and loved Matt, which is to say everyone Matt ever met. To his family and to his wife Jessica, our broken hearts are with you.
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