Archive for the ‘Deaths’ Category

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.”

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.