(By Chris Sharp) It is all too common that when a very good person dies – even an historical icon – we spend a day summarizing the person so we can then go on to other subjects.  Nobel-Prize winning humanist and Holocaust survivor died this last July 2, and he will of course not be with us for his 88th birthday this September 30.  But he did leave some things behind that he wants us to have -- his birthday gifts to us, so to speak – in the many books that he had written during his life time.

It was through one of Wiesel’s books that I was able to spend an afternoon with this man who finally gave me an impression of being one of the holiest people I had ever met.

I was a 24-year-old relatively low developed New York newspaper reporter when I met Elie in his garden-variety New York apartment in the fall of 1973.  The occasion was Wiesel’s publisher wanting to promote the author’s new book, “Souls on Fire.”

I may have been given the assignment by my supervising editor because I was very familiar with Wiesel’s earlier books.  I will list those books here because after re-reading most of them in recent years I feel they would benefit any reader who would follow Wiesel’s pursuit of reason after his mother, father and little sister had been killed in concentration camps.  These books were the well-known “Night,” “Dawn,” “A Beggar in Jerusalem,”  “The City and the Gate,” “The Forest and the Gate,” “The Accident,” and a “Beggar in Jerusalem.”  Each book was a narrative account of surviving the Holocaust as well as surviving the survival from the Holocaust.  I recommend these books today to any reader

But “Souls on Fire” was different. It was not a narrative in so much as it was expository.  The content was passionate poetry. But I didn’t understand where this passionate poetry was coming from.

At our meeting, the 44-year old Wiesel sat over a small table, and I sat over the other side of the table, bent toward each other like two chess players in the grasp of a very intense chessboard.  Wiesel understood quickly that I did not have a clue what his “Souls on Fire” was about.  He wore a black pullover sweater. On such a spiritually buoyant person, the black sweater occasionally made me think of the black smoke of the incinerators that were the final homes of his young father, mother and sister.

He had married just four years ago, at age 40, after a long struggle with guilt about starting his own family after witnessing the killing of the family who went with him to the concentration camps.  He lived with his wife and young son Shlomo, named after the father he had written about in “Night” who had regularly saved Elie’s life in the camps, before the father Shlomo had been beaten to death in front of young Elie by a Kapo

Read more here: A Sharp View: Elie Wiesel had more to tell us