Archive for the ‘Deaths’ Category

Oliver Sacks Dies

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 10.49.53 AMOliver Sacks’s death was not unexpected. He announced its coming in the The New York Times on Feb. 19.

The neurologist and much-admired author died of cancer on Sunday, at the age of 82. He is being remembered in laudatory obituaries including those from the NYT, the Guardian, and Forbes, with a headline that would be a fitting epitaph, “Medicine Has Lost Its Muse.”

Sacks was known for his nonfiction works that reflected upon the workings of the brain, offering case histories of patients and explaining conditions such as Tourette’s and amnesia to a broad audience of fascinated readers.

His writing was always clear, empathetic, and accessible and he took pains to make it revolve around his patients rather than offering only details of their conditions.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 10.53.05 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-30 at 10.51.03 AMHe wrote thirteen books. On the Move: A Life (RH/Knopf; April 28, 2015; OverDrive Sample) is his most recent. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings are his best known.

He gave several TED talks, Awakenings was made into a film starring Robin Williams, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was adapted into an opera, which is still being produced in companies around the country.

In one of his last public writings, an opinion piece for the NYT he wrote

“And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”


Alan Cheuse Dies at 75

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.55.48 AMAlan Cheuse, author of Prayers for the Living and NPR’s All Things Considered book reviewer, has died at age 75, from injuries resulting from a car accident.

A creative writing teacher, a working writer, and a beloved voice on the radio, Cheuse inspired a deep appreciation of good writing and rich reading. His daughter, Sonya Cheuse, director of publicity for the publisher Ecco, told NPR that her father passed his love of literature down to her entire family: “My dad is the reason I love reading,” she says. “This is the family business.”

Cheese reviewed a wide range of books from the Dan Winslow’s best seller, The Cartel to t Booker nominees,  Marilynn Robinson’s Lila and Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island:His family joined him at the end of last year for “The Perfect Family Book List” for gift giving.

Susan Stamberg of All Things Considered has posted a remembrance.

E.L. Doctorow dies at 84

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.39.30 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.39.58 AME.L. Doctorow, best known for the novels Ragtime, The March, World’s Fair, and Billy Bathgate, has died at age 84 from complications of lung cancer.

In an exhaustive obituary The New York Times says, “he consistently upended expectations with a cocktail of fiction and fact, remixed in book after book; with clever and substantive manipulations of popular genres like the Western and the detective story; and with his myriad storytelling strategies… Mr. Doctorow was one of contemporary fiction’s most restless experimenters.”

The NYT also includes a link to a video of Doctorow discussing his work process.

Other notable obituaries include those by the LA Times, NPR, and New York magazine.

The LA Times reports President Obama posted his reaction on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.40.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.40.42 AMNPR’s obituary points out that Doctorow was once a book editor working with a diverse range of writers, including Ayn Rand, Ian Fleming, Norman Mailer, and James Baldwin. The site also includes a video of Doctorow accepting the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters given by the National Book Foundation for lifetime achievement.

New York magazine includes a charming film clip of Doctorow discussing how difficult writing can be.

Readers Advisory: for those who haven’t read Doctorow’s books, a good place to begin is Ragtime, an exploration of America at the start of the 20th century, including historical characters such as Sigmund Freud, Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, and Booker Washington.

Author James Salter Dies

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 12.02.19 PM“Life passes into pages if it passes into anything” said author James Salter in his 1997 memoir Burning the Days (RH/Vintage; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). He died on Friday at age 90.

Many readers might not know of him. His books may not have achieved big sales, but the many observances of his passing, which uniformly offer high praise for his consummate skills, are, somewhat ironically, sending his books rising on the Amazon charts.

Salter is called an underappreciated master craftsman in many tributes:

Richard Ford summarizes Salter’s influence in a 2013 New Yorker profile, “It is an article of faith among readers of fiction that James Salter writes American sentences better than anyone writing today.”

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Salter’s most recent book is the 2013 novel All That Is (RH/Knopf; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). He broke onto the literary scene in the late 1950s and is perhaps best known for the 1967 novel Sport and a Pastime (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample) and Light Years (RH/Vintage; OverDrive Sample) published in 1975. He also wrote for Hollywood (or, as Dealine puts it, “indulged an ultimately unsatisfactory flirtation with Hollywood”), for projects starring Robert Mitchum (The Hunters) and Robert Redford (Downhill Racer).


Vincent Bugliosi Dies at 80

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Author Vincent Bugliosi, has died at age 80, after being treated for cancer.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.43.31 AMPerhaps best known as the prosecutor of the Charles Manson case, Bugliosi is also a multiple Edgar winning author. His account of the Manson crimes and trial, Helter Skelter (Norton; 1974; Brilliance Audio), is a true crime classic. Its menacing tone, quick pace, and clear description of events helped set expectations for the genre.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.44.20 AMBugliosi followed Helter Skelter with accounts of other murders such as And The Sea Will Tell (Norton; 1991) and Till Death Do Us Part (Norton; 1978).

He tackled the assassination of President Kennedy in Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Norton; 2007; Simon & Schuster Audio).

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.46.23 AMHis most recent title is the 2011 Divinity of Doubt: God and Atheism on Trial (Vanguard Press; Dreamscape Media; OverDrive Sample).

Readers new to Bugliosi may want to begin with his classic, Helter Skelter.

Tanith Lee Dies at 67

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

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The first woman to win the British Fantasy Award, Tanith Lee has died at age 67 after a long illness. She won the World Fantasy Award twice and was a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from both the World Fantasy Convention and the Horror Writers Association. Although she never won the Nebula, she was nominated twice.

In an appreciation, the SF web site i09 says Lee “was one of the most prolific and influential authors of fantasy and horror. Everyone seems to know her for something different. Some people are obsessed with The Silver Metal Lover, [RH/Spectra; originally published in 1977] while others devoured her fantasy series.”

But the Guardian notes she “seemed to have fallen out of favour as a writer in recent years, as did many writers who came to prominence in the SF fields in the Seventies.” the author herself said in a 1998 interview, with Locus Magazine “If anyone ever wonders why there’s nothing coming from me, it’s not my fault. I’m doing the work. No, I haven’t deteriorated or gone insane. Suddenly, I just can’t get anything into print.”

As tastes in genre fiction shifted, that problem only continued and now just a handful of her books are in print.

Her debut, The Birthgrave (Penguin/DAW; OverDrive Sample) is being reprinted for its 40th anniversary next week. The other books in that trilogy are planned for release over the next several months.


Ruth Rendell Dies at 85

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.04.40 AMAuthor Ruth Rendell, who also wrote under the pen name Barbara Vine, has died at age 85, after suffering a stroke in January.

Known for her skill in crafting dark, pointed, and intellectual psychological thrillers, Rendell is one of the pioneers of crime fiction.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.45.54 AMShe is the author of the Inspector Reginald Wexford mysteries, beginning in 1964 with From Doon with Death (RH/Ballantine, 2007; OverDrive Sample). She went on to write 23 more over a career that spanned fifty years (the most recent is No Man’s Nightingale, S&S/Scribner, 2013; OverDrive Sample).

Rendell also wrote successful standalones. The newest is The Girl Next Door (S&S/Scribner, 2014; OverDrive Sample).

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.05.54 AMHer next book, also a standalone, is scheduled for December, Dark Corners (S&S/Scribner, 12/1/15; 9781501119422, 1501119427).

As Barbara Vine, Rendell wrote hits such as A Dark-Adapted Eye (currently out of stock in print; available digitally from Open Road Media; OverDrive Sample) and The Birthday Present (RH/Broadway; OverDrive Sample).

The Guardian suggests five key works for new readers to try and for established fans to revisit.

Western Passage: Ivan Doig
Dies at 75

Monday, April 13th, 2015

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Ivan Doig died on Thursday, in his home in Seattle. Both a novelist and a nonfiction writer, Doig published over a dozen books including This House of Sky (which was a finalist for the National Book Award), The Whistling Season, The Bartender’s Tale, and Sweet Thunder.

His final work, slated for publication on August 18th, is Last Bus to Wisdom.

The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the LA Times offer remembrances.

On his website Doig begins a note to his readers with this:

No one is likely to confuse my writing style with that of Charlotte Bronte, but when that impassioned parson’s daughter lifted her pen from Jane Eyre and bequeathed us the most intriguing of plot summaries—’Reader, I married him’—she also was subliminally saying what any novelist, even one from the Montana highlands rather than the Yorkshire moors, must croon to those of you with your eyes on our pages: ‘Reader, my story is flirting with you; please love it back.’ Our books come to you with bright-cheeked hope…

Readers who want to explore Doig’s writing with that same “bright-cheeked hope” might wish to begin with his memoir This House of Sky.

RA Help for New Terry Pratchett Readers

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.46.57 AMThe widely reported news of Terry Pratchett’s death is likely to send readers to the library. For those new to Pratchett, who wrote over 70 novels, many as part of the sprawling Discworld series, it can be hard to know where to start.

Readers’ advisors can turn to the A.V. Club’s well-considered path through Pratchett’s novels and consult BoingBoing’s posting of Krzysztof Kietzma’s handy infographic to the interrelated books in Discworld (unfortunately, it’s difficult to read. A larger version is available here).

BuzzFeed offers a ranked listing of his 30 best works while USA Today and Mashable suggest five starting titles.

Author Terry Pratchett Dies

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The author of over 70 books for children and adults, including the popular Discworld series and many other novels has died at 66.

Terry Pratchett, who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease, died at his home according to the announcement,  “with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family.”

The Guardian offers a tribute to the author in the form of reviews by young fans, as well as a selection of his most inspiring quotes.

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A collection of 14 stories for children, many of which were written when Pratchett was in his teens,  Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales (HMH/Clarion; Listening Library) was published in February. The fourth in the Long Earth series, written for adults, The Long Utopia (Harper; HarperLuxe) is scheduled for publication this June.


Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

nightoftheHolds are rising in libraries for David Carr’s memoir, The Night of the Gun (S&S, 2008), causing several to order more copies in trade paperback.

Sadly, people are being brought to the book by the author’s recent death at 58, with news stories and obits noting his searing memoir of the days when he was, as he himself describes it, a “violent drug-snorting thug.”

Beloved among fellow journalists, his “fond and tearful” wake on Tuesday was covered in many publications, from the New York Times, where he was the media reporter,  to The Economist and the New York Post.

An excerpt from the book was the cover story of the NYT Magazine when it was published in 2008. In the book, he took a journalists’ approach to his own life, reporting on it by interviewing the people who witnessed it.

Thanks to Barrie Olmstead, Adult Materials Selector, Sacramento Public Library, for the tip.

“A Serious Blow for
American Poetry”

Monday, February 16th, 2015

9780679765844Former Poet Laureate Philip Levine died at 87 on Saturday. In today’s NYT, critic Dwight Garner describes him as the author of “spare, ironic poems of the industrial heartland” and calls his loss, “a serious blow for American poetry.”

Levine won a Pulitzer Prize for his collection The Simple Truth (RH/Knopf, 1994) and two National Book Awards, for Ashes: Poems New & Old (Atheneum, 1979) and for What Work Is (RH/Knopf, 1991). His most recent collection was News of the World, (RH/Knopf, 2009).

The New Yorker, which published many of his poems, beginning in 1958, notes that Levine credits a high school teacher for opening his eyes to poetry,

When I was in the eleventh grade and the war was still going, a teacher read us some poems by Wilfred Owen. And after class, for some reason, she called me up to her desk and said, “Would you like to borrow this book?” How she knew that I was responding so powerfully to these poems, I’m not sure, but I was. She said, “Now, I want you to take it home, and read it with white gloves on.” In other words, don’t spill soup on it. It was probably the most significant poetic experience I had in my whole life, and I was only seventeen. Just to discover that there was a young man some years before whose feelings about war were so similar to my own, yet he had experienced it all, whereas I was only living in dread of having to go to war.

Author Colleen McCullough Dies

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

The author of the 1977  mega best seller, The Thorn Birds, and most recently, the novel Bittersweet, (S&S) has died Australia. She was 77.



Colleen McCullough wrote over 20 books since the Thorn Birds became a best seller, propelled to even greater success by a blockbuster TV series based on it. A generational saga set in Australia, the author drew on her own family background for the story.

The books that followed included a series of historical novels set in classical Rome and another of detective stories. As she told an interviewer in 2013, she felt uncomfortable returning to the genre that brought her the greatest success, but for last year’s Bittersweet, she said she had managed to construct an epic romance that could not be considered the “Son of Thorn Birds.”

In that interview, looking ahead, she said she had an idea for another of her detective novels featuring Carmine Delmonico (the most recent, Sins of the Flesh, was released here a few months after Bittersweet), but she didn’t want to start it because “it would be terribly frustrating to get halfway through a book and fall off the perch.”

Novelist Robert Stone Dies

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

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National Book Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Robert Stone died on Saturday at his home in Key West. He was 77.

The New York Times, in addition to an obituary, publishes an appreciation of his work by Michiko Kakutani, who says he was “one of the few writers to capture the apocalyptic madness of America in the 1960s and ‘70s.”

The books she finds particularly noteworthy are:

A Hall of Mirrors, (HMH, 1966)

Dog Soldiers, (HMH, 1974) — National Book Award winner

A Flag for Sunrise, (RH/Knopf, 1981) — finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize

Damascus Gate, (HMH, 1998)

Children of Light, (RH/Knopf, 1986)

Bay of Souls (HMH, 2003)

Prime Green, memoir, (HarperPerennial, 2007)

Death of the Black-Haired Girl, (HMH, 2013)

Norman Bridwell Dies

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell, died on Friday. He was 86 years old.

Scholastic published the first  Clifford book in 1963. The series became so important to the company that Scholastic adopted the dog as its official mascot.

In a statement released yesterday, Dick Robinson,  CEO, of Scholastic, paid tribute to the author, saying, “Norman Bridwell’s books about Clifford, childhood’s most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor.”

In 2012, Scholastic celebrated Clifford’s 50th anniversary and released a video interview with Bridwell:

A live-action, animated 3D movie, Clifford the Big Red Dog is scheduled for release on April 8th, 2016.

The next book in the series will be published in April.

9780545823357_474aeClifford Goes to Kindergarten
Norman Bridwell
Scholastic: April 28, 2015
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K
$3.99 USD