Archive for the ‘Deaths’ Category

Gloria Naylor Dies

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

9780140066906_477a8The author of The Women of Brewster Place, a debut that earned the National Book Award, has died at 66 of heart failure, reports the NYT.

In addition to her best-known novel, she also wrote seven others including Linden Hills, Bailey’s Cafe, Mama Day, and The Men of Brewster Place. In all her novels, says the NYT, Naylor “addressed social issues including poverty, racism, sexism and gay rights, usually through intricately drawn black female characters.”

In 1989, The Women of Brewster Place was made into a miniseries by Oprah Winfrey, bringing even more attention to her writing.

Headlining their appreciation “Rest in Power,” Ebony writes Naylor’s “beautiful and complex portrayals of the lives of Black women inspired a generation of writers … A pioneer [she] fearlessly explored issues of race, sexuality, and spirituality in her work, opening the door for a wave of contemporary … writers like Bebe More-Campbell, Eric Jerome Dickey, Tina McElroy Ansa and others.”

Goodbye Llama Llama

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

9780451474575_e2c57Children’s author and illustrator Anna Dewdney died at 50 of  brain cancer on Sept. 3. She is known for her Llama Llama picture books, starting with Llama Llama Red Pajama. The series runs to nearly 20 titles and has sold more than 10 million copies, reports PW.

Librarians may also know Dewdney as a frequent speaker in schools and libraries and as an ardent supporter of children’s literacy. In 2013 she wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

“When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language … We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human. When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”

She was so committed to reading that she requested that, in lieu of a funeral,  people read to a child.

Two posthumous projects are in the works. PW reports that Dewdney had completed a picture book for Penguin titled, Little Excavator. It is scheduled for release in early June 2017 from Viking.

Netflix is also planning an animated Llama Llama series to air in 2017. Deadline Hollywood reports that Jennifer Garner is on board to voice Mama Llama. Netflix says that “The series is led by an all-star team of creators including Oscar-winning director Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), director Saul Blinkoff (Doc McStuffins) [and] … legendary art director Ruben Aquino (Frozen, The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan).”

Below is video of Dewdney at one of the places she loved, a book festival.

Berenstain Bears: A Passing

Friday, July 29th, 2016

9780394822860Jan Berenstain, famous as the co-author and illustrator of the Berenstain Bears books has died at age 88. With her husband, who died in 2005, she created over 300 titles, featuring Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister Bear. The books highlighted family life, learning from each other, being brave, and the everyday life lessons of early childhood.

In an obituary, the NYT reports that Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel, served as their first editor and that the couple credited him “with helping them achieve their trademark simplicity in language and illustrations. That style made their books popular as reading primers, by helping toddlers see connections between stories and words on a page.”

Their first book came out in 1962, a story written in rhyme titled The Big Honey Hunt. It is still in print but the series itself has developed into animated TV shows, video games, and an iPhone app. After her husband’s death, Jan Berenstain worked on the books with their son Mike, who will take over the series with his brother.

Nineteen new Berenstain books are expected this year.


Lois Duncan Dies

Friday, June 17th, 2016

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The news of the death of Lois Duncan has brought an outpouring of warm appreciation for the pioneer YA suspense novelist. Even the site Jezebel took a break from snark to praise Duncan for taking “timeless literary themes—mystery, sin, longing, revenge and, of course, love—and [applying] them to teens without condescension.”

On NPR this morning, Petra Mayer says that “The Queen Of Teen Suspense” seemed to lose her taste for the genre after her  youngest daughter, Kait, was killed in 1989 in a crime that police called a random drive-by shooting. Duncan would not accept that explanation and devoted herself to trying to find the truth. According to Mayer, Warner Bros. had expressed interest in a documentary on the case just before Duncan’s sudden death.

Several movies and TV shows have been based on her books. In 2012, Stephenie Meyer bought the film rights to Down A Dark Hall. In 2014, a new adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer was announced 

Comics Legend Darwin Cooke
Dies at 53

Monday, May 16th, 2016

9781401248888_c2884Iconic Eisner-winning comics illustrator and writer Darwyn Cooke, has died of lung cancer. He was 53.

Of his many contributions he is perhaps best known for his revamp of DC Comics characters, Catwoman (working with Ed Brubaker) chief among them. He also worked on comic adaptations of Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels and on a prequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen.

DC co-publisher Dan DiDio said in a statement reported by USA Today:

“He was both compassionate and combative, approaching everything he did with a tenaciousness and temerity that is now unheard of in a world afraid to offend. This is an industry-wide loss that I feel personally, but the sadness is mitigated in the knowing that the beauty and grace of his art will forever stand the test of time and be a monument to all that is great about comics.”

Of his signature style, the L.A. Times writes:

“His work was ingrained with a sense of humanity and wonder pulled directly from his signature retro-touched style [of] fat, black lines, V-shaped men and hourglass cut women [that] fill each page with nostalgic charm and bold visuals … His style and taste … sound like a golden trumpet through the DC Comics catalog. It was loud, daring and it heralded hope.”

Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier may be his most exemplary work (also adapted into a animated direct-to-video film in 2008). It combines a deep knowledge of the DC universe with a strong sense of hope and justice and showcases his trademark style, as he imagines the Golden Age DC characters such as Superman and Batman meeting the Silver Age characters such as Green Lantern and Flash, creating new stories and pairings while reaching deep into the DC backfile. This approach, practiced frequently by other comics and comic films, is particularly well handled by Cooke.

9781401262457_e492fHe is the illustrator for a new title releasing this week, The Twilight Children written by Gilbert Hernandez (RH/Vertigo). The paperback release of DC: The New Frontier (RH/DC Comics) is due Jun 28.

Two of his works are rising on Amazon, the deluxe edition of DC: The New Frontier and Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Darwin Cooke  (RH/DC Comics).

Many publications, from A.V. Club to Entertainment Weekly to the The New York Times offered tributes.

The best tribute is Cooke’s work itself. Below is a feature on the art in DC: The New Frontier.

Charles W. Robinson, Keeping the Public in Public Libraries

Monday, April 11th, 2016
Charles Robinson in1996, the year he retired as  Director of BCPL.  Credit: Sean Kief

Charles Robinson in1996, the year he retired as Director of BCPL.
Credit: Sean Kief

It seemed sadly fitting that, as the successful PLA Conference was in full swing in Denver, news arrived that Charles W. Robinson, former director of Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL), had died. Many of us had felt his absence at the conference, even as his ideas about public service continued to be fundamental to most of the meetings and conversations.

Charles relished getting together with colleagues at PLA. He enjoyed nothing more than taking a contrarian point of view and then proclaiming he “didn’t give a rat’s ass” if others agreed, all the while doing his level best to change their minds.

He was a bundle of contradictions. A man who passionately advocated for serving the people, he didn’t suffer fools gladly and would have been a disaster on a public service desk. Ready to go with his gut and implement any idea that struck him as smart, he also believed in long-range planning, creating and following dozens of carefully thought-out multiple-year plans. A strong believer in the intelligence of the library staff (one of his favorite sayings was “never try to bullshit the staff”) and in the importance of training and recognizing achievements, he was personally anything but warm and fuzzy.

One of his major achievements was to get local government to understand the importance of libraries, launching persuasive arguments based on data. He taught other directors to do the same and helped establish PLA’s Output Measures for Public Libraries, Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries and the annual Public Library Data Service, Statistical Report. 

After his retirement, Charles continued his influence as the editor of Library Administrator’s Digest, a roundup of news along with his inimitable comments, a monthly dose of Charles.

But it’s the personal memories of Charles that can be the most revealing. I have dozens, but the one that made the biggest impression occurred even before I met him. He hired me without an interview, based solely on my letter of application. Trying desperately to distinguish myself from crowds of applicants (under the influence of What Color is Your Parachute?), I wrote about my part-time job in the U. of Michigan Undergraduate Library’s Fines and Overdues Department, saying I particularly liked trying to help students work their way through our often draconian rules. I even bragged that one student I  helped not only sent a check for his overdue fines (thus allowing him to get his degree on time), but a separate check for me, to buy myself a beer to thank me for my efforts.

Charles read the letter and immediately yelled to the Human Resources Director, “Hire her!” When I got the call, I couldn’t quite believe it, but figured a place that could make decisions like that was a place I wanted to work. I took the job sight unseen.

When I joined BCPL, I thought I was lucky to get a job, little did I know I was embarking on a profession that became, as it did for Charles, a lifelong obsession.

I would love to hear your memories of Charles (by the way, while the rest of the profession knew his as “Charlie,” those of us who worked with him called him by his more formal name). Please enter them in the comments section below.

Donations can be made in Charles’s name to:

The Foundation for the Baltimore County Public Library 320 York Road, Towson MD 21204

Church of the Holy Comforter,130 W. Seminary Ave, Lutherville, MD 21093

Plans are under way for a celebration of Charles’s life at ALA Annual in Orlando, Fla.

Novelist, Poet Jim Harrison Dies

Monday, March 28th, 2016

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The New York Times is well know for their stirring obituaries, but the one for writer Jim Harrison, who died Saturday at 78, is one of their most moving.

Just last week, the NYT Book Review featured Harrison in one of their “By the Book” profiles and reviewed his most recent book, The Ancient Minstrel, (Grove Press, 2/6/16) saying, “No one writes more persuasively about the natural world, the ways of animals both wild and domestic, rural roughneck mores, hunting and fishing, food, drinking, the writing life and, of course, male lust: reflexive, resistless, defiantly unfashionable.”

In January, he published a book of poetry, Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon Press). One of the poems from that collection is now particularly poignant,

My work piles up,
I falter with disease.
Time rushes toward me —it has no brakes. Still,
the radishes are good this year.
Run them through butter,
add a little salt.

The Southern Voice, Pat Conroy,
Dies at 70

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

9780553268881_ab0ed9780385413053_f7677 Pat Conroy, who once told CBS News that “I always thought that if I told the story of the South, I would tell the history of the whole world,” has died of pancreatic cancer.

Conroy wrote The Prince of Tides, which dominated best seller lists for close to a year, The Great Santini, Beach Music, South of Broad, and several other novels and works of nonfiction, several of which were adapted into successful films.

Upon his death on March 4, the NYT wrote that Conroy’s books,

“captivated readers with their openly emotional tone, lurid family stories and lush prose that often reached its most affecting, lyrical pitch when evoking the wetlands around Beaufort, S.C.”

The paper further reports that Conroy was at work “on both a novel and a memoir about living in Atlanta in the 1970s” when he died. There is no news on whether or not those works will be completed. When he announced his condition on Facebook a few weeks ago, Conroy said “I owe you a novel and I intend to deliver it.”

The USA Today obituary features an illustrated tribute with clips from the films adapted from Conroy’s novels. The Washington Post provides segments of Conroy talking about his career, readers, and luck as a writer. The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR all offer tributes as well.

YA Author Louise Rennison Dies

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

y648The woman who brought the term “full frontal snogging” into US parlance has died at 63. British author Louise Rennison, wrote several hilarious YA novels, including Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (HarperTeen, 1999). The first in The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series, it was adapted as a movie in 2008.

A tribute in the Guardian attests, “Rennison understood the unique, farcical horror of being a teenage girl. Throughout the books, Georgia’s insecurities are detailed in all their vivid, obsessional power.” Entertainment Weekly calls her teenage protagonist Georgia Nicholson. “spunky, somewhat self-absorbed, and absolutely hysterical.” The Telegraph says she “taught a generation of teenage girls to see the funny side of life.”

The cause of death had not been reported.

Umberto Eco Dies At 84

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Name of the RoseFor the second time in 24 hours, the world is mourning the death of a beloved author.

Italian author Umberto Eco, known by many for his 1980 best seller, The Name of the Rose, (HMH) died on Friday night. Hours earlier, American author Harper Lee died.

Eco’s death is making headlines around the world.

New York Times — Umberto Eco, Author of ‘The Name of the Rose,’ Dead at 84

The Guardian — Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and intellectual, dies aged 84

NPR, Weekend Edition Saturday (audio to be posted around noon ET, 2/20  — ‘Numero Zero’ Reprises Umberto Eco’s Fascination With ‘Losers’

Breaking News: Harper Lee Dies

Friday, February 19th, 2016

MockingbirdThe New York Times reports that the author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman has died at 89.

Harper Lee was much in the news lately, for finally agreeing to two things she had resisted for years, publishing a second book, as the NYT puts it “under mysterious circumstances,”and for selling the rights to Mockingbird to Scott Rudin for a Broadway production.

Long live To Kill a Mockingbird. May it continue to change lives and create readers.

Chuck Williams Dies at 100

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

9781616289621_35d60When asked the secret of her long and active career, Julia Child replied, “Well, I have been known to eat well.”

The same could be said of her friend, Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams-Sonoma and prolific cookbook author who died in his sleep on Saturday in his San Francisco home. He was 100 years old.

As the New York Times obituary puts it, before Williams discovered the amazing range of cookware available in France, inspiring him to open his first store in Sonoma, California, in 1956, U.S. kitchens were drab affairs, stocked with “pots, pans and knives from a department store.”

The obituary also credits him with writing over 200 cookbooks, the latest of which is Cooking at Home, (Weldon Owen, dist. by S&S) re-released in September to celebrate Williams’ 100th birthday. It was originally published in 2010 when Williams was  a mere 95.

Wallander Retires

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Unlike James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Lisbeth Salander, who lived on after their creators’s deaths, Kurt Wallander will not be featured in future novels.

As reported by the global news agency AFP and picked up by Yahoo! News, Henning Mankell’s publishing partner Dan Israel, who co-founded Leopard publishing with Mankell, stated that now that the writer has died, “It is out of the question that there would be other books featuring Wallander.”

Neither are there any manuscripts hiding in a vault. While Israel says Mankell was working on a book before he died, but it “is just a draft and unpublishable.”

He vowed to protect the literary property of Mankell, stressing “Nothing can be approved without my agreement.”

However, Mankell’s final book has not yet been released in the U.S. The Guardian reports that Quicksand: What It Means to be a Human Being, is about his experience dealing with his cancer diagnosis. Scheduled for release in the U.K. this coming February, the U.S. release date has not yet been announced.

In an interviews in 2012, Mankell explains that he is not interested in crime itself, but “To use the mirror of crime to look at contradictions in society, that is what interests me.”

Henning Mankell Dies at 67

Monday, October 5th, 2015

9781400031573www.randomhouse.comSwedish crime writer, author of the Wallander series, died today of cancer at the age of 67.

His gloomy, dedicated police inspector Kurt Wallander tracked down cases in eleven novels. The series began with Faceless Killers in 1997 and the latest entry is the 2014 An Event in Autumn. Mankell wrote stand alones as well, such as 2013’s A Treacherous Paradise and 2012’s The Shadow Girls.

Although he is known for his role in ushering in a wave of Nordic crime he told The Guardian “I could never write a crime story just for the sake of it, because I always want to talk about certain things.” He went on to say that Macbeth was the “best crime story he has ever read.”

Many will know Mankell through the BBC/PBS TV series starring Sir Kenneth Branagh who expertly highlighted Wallander’s character and translated much of the books’ melancholy. Branagh told the BBC:

In life and in art Henning Mankell was a man of passionate commitment. I will miss his provocative intelligence and his great personal generosity. Aside from his stringent political activism, and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandinavian literature. His loving family, and those privileged to know him, together with readers from all over the world, will mourn a fine writer and a fine man.

Mankell lived a full and adventurous life, going to sea as a young man and scrapping a living out of Paris before returning to Sweden to work in the theater. Even as a novelist he remained active in the theater, serving as the artistic director of Teatro Avenida in Mozambique.

According to his website, he wrote “around forty novels and numerous plays. His books have sold more than forty million copies and are translated into more than forty languages. Solidarity with those in need run through his entire work and manifested itself in action until the very end.”

In 2014, thinking he had a different problem, he saw a doctor only to discover cancer had already invaded several areas of his body. “It was a catastrophe for me,” he told NPR, “Everything that was normal to me up to that point was gone all of a sudden. No one had died of cancer in my family. I had always assumed I’d die of something else.”

NPR reports his last book, released in early 2015 in Sweden, is entitled Quicksand. It is not yet listed on American wholesalers.

Jackie Collins Dies at 77

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.46.22 AMJackie Collins, author of many bestsellers such as Hollywood Wives (Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books), died of breast cancer on Saturday at the age of 77.

The author of over thirty novels, Collins helped define the genre of detailed, glitzy, rich and famous Hollywood stories. Her books were full of sex, power plays, and ambition. They offered fun, over-the-top stories with a quick pace and plenty of plot twists.

People conducted the last interview with Collins on Sept. 14 in which she publicly reveled her diagnosis for the first time:

“I did it my way, as Frank Sinatra would say. I’ve written five books since the diagnosis, I’ve lived my life, I’ve traveled all over the world, I have not turned down book tours and no one has ever known until now when I feel as though I should come out with it.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.43.00 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.47.53 AMHer most recent book is The Santangelos (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), the ninth title in a long-running series that began in 1981 with Chances (Hachette/Grand Central).

Her first novel was The World Is Full of Married Men, which the NYT reports was banned in Australia and South Africa due to its overt depictions of extramarital sex.

According to Entertainment Weekly, every book Collins published has hit the NYT Besteller list.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.02.42 PMIt’s hard to imagine that anyone interested in the genre has not discovered Collins, but for those few who are ready to try her writing for the first time, a good beginning is Chances the first in the series she devoted much of her career to developing or the stand-alone Lovers & Players (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press) for a vintage taste of her trademark style.

While promoting The Santangelos she told Access Hollywood Live, that she was working on a memoir entitled Reform School Or Hollywood. If it makes it to press (and no word on that yet) it will include her affair with Marlon Brando, “to this day, he is the most beautiful guy I’ve ever seen.”