Nat Hentoff — the wide-ranging, free-thinking, controversial and passionate author, columnist, jazz critic and social bomb-thrower who died yesterday at age 91 — had a strong Westport connection.
A Boston native long associated with New York City — the AP describes him as “a bearded, scholarly figure, a kind of secular rabbi, as likely to write a column about fiddler Bob Wills as a dissection of the Patriot Act, to have his name appear in the liberal Village Voice as the far-right WorldNetDaily.com, where his column last appeared in August 2016,” and whose friends included Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Malcolm X and I.F. Stone — he had a Westport home for many years.
Hentoff appeared several times at the Westport Library, as a speaker. There he provoked local audiences, just as he did readers worldwide.
Once, in a talk on censorship — which he vehemently opposed — he startled the attendees by advocating firmly for the anti-abortion side of that volatile topic.
Hentoff’s sister, the poet Janet Krauss, was also a longtime Westport resident.
(Hat tip: Maxine Bleiweis)