Readers’ Advisory:

9780385343596_d7d4aDuring her weekly radio appearance on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW, librarian Nancy Pearl recommends The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End, Katie Roiphe (PRH/The Dial Press; OverDrive Sample).

Nancy says that it is a “fascinating” exploration of how five different writers, Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, Maurice Sendak, and James Salter, approach death and “how their impending death affected their life.” She calls it a collection of “mini biographies” that make readers interested in the writer’s work, even more than each subject’s ending.

When it came out last March, the book received a flurry of media attention.

The LA Times connected it to the current in interest in books on death and dying, associating it with recent titles by Oliver Sacks and Paul Kalanithi, as well as older titles by Calvin Trillin and Joan Didion.

USA Today said the book contained “subtle brilliance” and gave it 3.5 stars out of a possible 4. It was a People magazine pick, reviewed in the daily NYT and in the Sunday Book Review, where reviewer and author Olivia Laing said “The intensity of these passages — the depth of research, the acute sensitivity for declarative moments — is deeply beguiling.”

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