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Remembering historian Caleb Carr, and his account of fighting cancer alongside his cat

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Caleb Carr, the great military historian and novelist, has died at the age of 68. He had a tough childhood, growing up with a violent father and hard-drinking friends of the family who happened to be famed Beat Generation writers. They were noisy drunks that were a disruption, Caleb Carr once wrote. They made me determined never to be a fiction writer. But he did, including his celebrated 1994 novel, "The Alienist."

Caleb Carr was on our show just last month to talk about "My Beloved Monster," his gorgeous memoir about his 17 years with his cat, Masha, who he said picked him out at an animal shelter. But we had to record the interview months before. Caleb had cancer and wanted to be sure to be able to speak about Masha. The two of them had been struck with cancer at roughly the same time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

CALEB CARR: It was part of the amazing - the most amazing details of our story that our illnesses were so similar. Because of that, we knew we were tied in even more in terms of knowing what to do for each other and knowing what was going on with each other. And she made it possible, really possible for me to survive. I like to think - I hope - that I did the same for her.

SIMON: We'd like to think Caleb Carr and Masha have found each other again. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.