Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing. "He is the only writer ever to win the National Book Award for nonfiction and fiction, but it’s not just the writing: Born into the East Coast establishment, Matthiessen ran from it, and in the running became a novelist, a C.I.A. agent, a founder of The Paris Review, author of more than 30 books, a naturalist, an activist and a master in one of the most respected lineages in Zen. As early as 1978, he was already being referred to, in a review in The New York Times, as a 'throwback,' because he has always seemed to be of a different, earlier era, with universal, spiritual and essentially timeless concerns." Peter Matthiessen, Lyrical Writer and Naturalist, Is Dead at 86.
Barbara Mertz, whose writing career encompassed over sixty books and three nom de plumes, has died at the age of 85. As Barbara Mertz, she wrote scholarly books on Egyptology after receiving a doctorate from the from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago in 1951, but then turned her hand to writing fiction under the names Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. [more inside]
The author of The Pauper's Cookbook , Paint Magic and more than 50 other titles, has died in London. If you ever thought about stippling, sponging, stencilling, scumbling, rag-rolling and distressing and/or color-washing a wall, you might well have been influenced by Ms. Innes.
Acclaimed New Zealand children's and young adult's book author Margaret Mahy died in Christchurch yesterday aged 76. [more inside]
Alan Sillitoe dies. The acclaimed English working class writer was perhaps best known for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and short story The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1959) (as both were later successfully adapted as films), but Sillitoe was also playwright, poet, travel writer and children's book author. D. J. Taylor does the man justice in an article for the TLS from 2008 when Sillitoe turned 80.
Famously reclusive American author J.D. Salinger has died at 91. The author of The Catcher in the Rye, a novel alternatively banned and labeled the Great American Novel, Salinger was also among the last authors whose short stories were routinely published in magazines. Salinger's other published works include Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories & Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. [more inside]
Robert B. Parker, prolific crime-novel author, creator of Spenser, Sunny Randall, and Virgil Cole, among others, has died with his boots on.
Dominick Dunne died yesterday at the age of 83. was well known for his chronicling of the follies and crimes of the rich. You can read some of his pieces from Vanity Fair here.
Alain Robbe-Grillet, French author, member of the Académie française and subject of this recent Mefi post, has passed away at age 85.
"Life is wise to deceive us," he once wrote, "for had it told us from the start what it had in store for us, we would refuse to be born." --Naguib Mahfouz, RIP --and more from when he won the Nobel in 1988
Stanislaw Lem: 1921-2006. Polish science-fiction giant Stanislaw Lem died this morning. He was 84. Though Lem was not as well known as Asimov or Heinlein or the other "Masters", he was just as important to the genre. Lem was not a fan of traditonal science-fiction, and in his work tried to approach futuristic themes from a more humanistic, almost psychological, perspective. (And his books are funny!) His best-known work, Solaris, was twice made into a film, most recently in 2002. [Woefully out-of-date official site.]
The author Rodney Whitaker is dead, taking along with him Trevanian, Nicholas Seare, Benat Le Cagot, and several of his other pen names. Under the name Trevanian he wrote The Eiger Sanction (1972) (which became a Clint Eastwood movie of the same name), Shibumi (1979), The Loo Sanction (1973), The Summer of Katya (1983), The Main (1976), Incident at Twenty-Mile (1998), and others. In real life, Whitaker was the Chairman of the Radio, Television, and Film Department at the University of Texas. He was believe to be 74 years old, and died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
One of the finest poets in English, Thom Gunn, has died. Along with Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes, Gunn became famous as a young poet in England in the 1950s as part of "The Movement," writing fine poems in rhyme and meter. But then he fell in love with an American soldier, Mike Kitay, and followed him to San Francisco, where he crafted one of the most daringly original voices in the 20th century, handling taboo subjects like LSD, orgiastic sex, and his 50-year relationship with Kitay with the precision of a diamond cutter. Gunn lived in my neighborhood, and was a dapper, subtle, sexy and hilariously witty man until the end. Ten years ago, when I asked him what music he was listening to he replied, "Oh, Nirvana and Social Distortion. I'm a flighty teenager that way."
Chaim Potok dead at 73 Author of The Chosen, The Promise, My Name Is Asher Lev, and and many others has died of Brain Cancer. Here is a link to a biography and selections of his work for anyone who may be unfamiliar with his life and work.
As a youngen, I was very much enamored with Ken Kesey's questioning soul and his flare for the wild. His novels provided much comfort as I tried to navigate my way through those conforming years we all know as high school. May he RIP.