Michael Herr, author of Dispatches, dies aged 76. [The Guardian] Michael Herr, the American writer and war correspondent famous for writing Dispatches, described as “the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time” by John le Carré, has died aged 76. Born in 1940, Herr was one of the most respected writers of New Journalism, the novelistic reportage pioneered by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote, where the journalist is as much part of the story as their subject. He practised this most famously in his book Dispatches, about his time working as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine in Vietnam between 1967 to 1969.
The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014) is an article about a 24-year old Chinese assembly line worker and poet who committed suicide last month. He worked for the electronics manufacturer which makes products for a range of companies, including Sony, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo. The post includes Chinese originals and English translations of Xu Lizhi's poems. His death and poetry have garnered much attention, such as these blogposts from The Wall Street Journal and The London Review of Books.
Tadeusz Różewicz (1921-2014) was a renowned Polish ‘poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, satirist and translator.’ Reckoned by Seamus Heaney as ‘one of the great European poets of the 20th century,’ he died in April at the age of 92: Guardian obituary; NYT obituary. [more inside]
Colin Wilson has passed away at the age of 82. He rose to fame in the 50s with The Outsider, which made him a figure amongst Britain's Beat movement and Angry Young Men. His writing has spanned the fiction and non-fiction, with an interest in the paranormal and the occult, his thoughts on which he blended with HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to produce The Mind Parasites. A TV series based on his The Space Vampires, also the basis for the movie Lifeforce (previously), is currently planned. Wikipedia page, 2004 Guardian interview, Times Obituary (subs only).
Doris Lessing, revolutionary Nobel prize-winning novelist, passed away this morning at the age of 94. [more inside]
The poet Jayne Cortez passed away this past December 28th in New York City (New York Times obituary). She started publishing her poems in the late 1960s and in the 70s began performing her poetry backed by music, first in collaboration with bassist Richard Davis, and then backed by her own band The Firespitters. Some of their tracks have found their way to YouTube: I See Chano Pozo, If the Drum Is a Woman, There It Is, Maintain Control & Economic Love Song I, Everybody Wants to Be Somebody, Takin' the Blues Back Home, Talk to Me (for Don Cherry), I've Been Searching, You Can Be and Endangered Species List Blues. Just two years ago she performed solo with her son by Ornette Coleman, drummer Denardo Coleman: Find Your Own Voice, I'm Gonna Shake and She Got He Got. In 1997 she was featured on University of California television network in the series Artists on the Cutting Edge where she read poems and discussed her work. Finally, here's a brief clip from the 1982 documentary Poetry in Motion, where she was interviewed.
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
Farewell Pushcart Queen: Jean Merrill has passed away from cancer. Many of her 30 books were young adult stories which followed underdogs in conflict with powerful interests. Her most well-known books were The Pushcart War, about a confrontation between New York pushcarts and the trucking industry, and The Toothpaste Millionaire, about a young African American entrepreneur who challenges big business. (previously) [more inside]
Gore Vidal, arguably one of america's greatest living post-war writers, died Tuesday at the age of 86. [more inside]
Acclaimed New Zealand children's and young adult's book author Margaret Mahy died in Christchurch yesterday aged 76. [more inside]
Writer, traveler, and kidnapper of Nazi generals, Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor -- Paddy to friends and fans -- is dead at 96. A silver lining: his biographer Artemis Cooper reports that the long-awaited final installment of his trilogy recounting a year-long walk across Europe as a young man in the 1930s, "has existed for some time, and will be published in due course."
David Markson has died. David Foster Wallace called his Wittgenstein's Mistress "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country"; but Markson also wrote, earlier in his career, an oddball Western, hardboiled detective fiction (Here is a tribute constructed entirely from text from Epitaph for a Dead Beat), and some uncommonly lusty stuff for a dedicated experimentalist. [more inside]
Louis Crompton, the author of Homosexuality and Civilization and Byron and Greek Love, has died. [more inside]
Irish poet and writer Christopher Nolan died on the 20 Feb. Nolan was born with cerebral palsy, and typed using a 'unicorn stick' attached to his head. Nolan has never spoken, yet his poetry has been compared to that of Joyce, Keats, and Yeats. [more inside]
Harold Pinter has died, the BBC reports If you don't know about him it is worth getting acquainted. This is a sad day for literature, but at least he had a good innings.
This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about. First reported by an anonymous tip to a blog, the Los Angeles Times has confirmed that David Foster Wallace has hung himself.
Alain Robbe-Grillet, French author, member of the Académie française and subject of this recent Mefi post, has passed away at age 85.
A wonderful obituary in the NYT for Grace Paley, who died yesterday at her home in Thetford Hill, Vt. She was 84.
"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
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.
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.