In Memoriam

November 10, 2007

So Long, Sweet Scientist: Norman Mailer Dies at 84 6

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Norman Mailer, a colossus who bestrode worlds both literary and journalistic – and, at his best, combined them – has died of acute renal failure, according to the Times. Mailer had been in poor health for some time, and, given his hospitalization last month and his advanced age, his death comes as no surprise. And […]

September 4, 2007

Remembering Michael Jackson, 65, author, beer critic 1

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In the early 1970s, when Michael Jackson first came on the scene, the idea of a professional beer critic must have seemed absurd. You didn’t need a professional, after all, to help you choose between one pale, fizzy lager and another. They all got you equally drunk. Since that time, beer culture in the United […]

August 23, 2007

A Salute to Grace Paley (1922-2007) 3

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Thumbtacked to the wall above my desk is a line from Grace Paley’s Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. It runs: “Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.” Paley could speak of “open destiny” with some authority. A writer to the marrow, she was also a mother, a rabble-rouser, and an inspiration. […]

April 25, 2007

Halberstam’s Heroes 0

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Not having really read anything that David Halberstam wrote, I cannot write a good-faith eulogy of the man, nor engage in anything deeper than a surface discussion of his books. But because what I have read about Halberstam has painted him as a great journalistic voice of 20th century America, and because I have recently […]

April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut RIP 5

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Awoke to the news that Kurt Vonnegut died. His death was somewhat unexpected, coming after a fall at his home in New York, but he lived a full life, even penning a surprise bestseller that put him back in the public eye in 2005. That was fun to see because, though Vonnegut may be one […]

January 24, 2007

The Reporter: Ryszard Kapuscinski 2

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Reading the books of Ryszard Kapuscinski, it sometimes seemed to me that he had he had slept on a dirt floor in a hut in every dusty village in the forgotten corners of the world. He brought us with him to peer at the world’s unknown “little” wars. There are many who, in the last […]

January 11, 2007

Remembering Tillie Olsen 1

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The recent death of Tillie Olsen (1912-2007) reminds us that the value of a piece of literature is not quantifiable – not by word count, not by books sold – but, rather, resides in a black box between writer and reader, in a transaction that defies easy explanation. Olsen’s writing was not prodigal – she […]

November 28, 2006

Remembering Bebe Moore Campbell 0

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Yesterday, I was watching the headlines as I often do, and I was shocked to see the obituary for Bebe Moore Campbell, author of Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, 72 Hour Hold, and many other books, come across the wires. She died, at 56, from complications of brain cancer. Campbell was a well-known writer, but […]

October 29, 2006

Remembering The Cay 3

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Theodore Taylor died this week. He was best known as author of The Cay, a book that has stayed with me since I read it in fifth or sixth grade. The book has a premise appealing to an 11 year old as it imagines a boy that age during World War II who, after the […]

April 6, 2005

Sad day in Iowa 0

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Frank Conroy, longtime director of the Iowa Writers workshop died today after a battle with cancer. Here’s the NY Times obit. (via ed)