home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore traveler | book awards     24books.org
                               dead book people
   For years, our bookstores had a very low-key, semi-hidden display of works by authors who had just died. Our man, Michael, enjoyed putting the newest death displays up. So, why not continue that fine tradition online? So here we'll note the passing of people who have made their mark on the world of books.
   To complete the page's theme, I've put up photos from Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery.

         Need more death - Jump back to deaths in: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011


clif Illustrator and children's author NORMAN BRIDWELL, whose Clifford the Big Red Dog series of children's books delighted children for decades, died last Friday. He was 86. Bridwell created Clifford in 1963 and went on to write and illustrate more than 150 titles. His first Clifford manuscript was turned down by nine publishers before landing at Scholastic, which has published Bridwell's work for more than 50 years. There are now 129 million books in print in 13 languages. In 2000, Clifford made his TV debut on PBS Kids, and the animated series quickly became a hit.
   Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said Bridwell's books about Clifford, "childhood's most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor. Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children--kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude--through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than fifty years.

kentKENT HARUF, 71, the author of several quiet, moving novels that take place in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, has died. His 1999 novel Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent novel, Benediction (2013), was on the short list for this year’s Folio Prize. Haruf’s last novel, Our Souls at Night, will be published next year. “ Haruf spent 30 years teaching English and writing. He is survived by his wife, Cathy, and three daughters.

(info from The Washington Post)

   An essay by Haruf in the autumn issue of Granta magazine, a memoir of his writing life, saw him explain how he had been “writing as hard as I could for almost 20 years” by the time his debut was published. “If I had learned anything over those years of work and persistence, it was that you had to believe in yourself even when no one else did. And later I often said something like that to my graduate students. You have to believe in yourself despite the evidence. I felt as though I had a little flame of talent, not a big talent, but a little pilot-light-sized flame of talent, and I had to tend to it regularly, religiously, with care and discipline, like a kind of monk or acolyte, and not to ever let the little flame go out,” he wrote.

mark strandMARK STRAND
, one of America's leading poets, has died at age 80. His daughter confirmed the death to The New York Times, and said the cause was cancer. Strand was born in 1934 in Canada and was raised in the United States. His career as a poet and writer spanned over five decades. He was appointed poet laureate in 1990, and in 1999 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book Blizzard of One. The Poetry Foundation describes Strand's style as "precise language, surreal imagery, and the recurring theme of absence and negation; later collections investigate ideas of the self with pointed, often urbane wit."

(info from Huff Post)

      here's a Strand poem, where he's looking towards the end


I am not thinking of Death, but Death is thinking of me.
He leans back in his chair, rubs his hands, strokes
His beard and says, “I’m thinking of Strand, I’m thinking
That one of these days I’ll be out back, swinging my scythe
Or holding my hourglass up to the moon, and Strand will appear
In a jacket and tie, and together under the boulevards’
Leafless trees we’ll stroll into the city of souls. And when
We get to the Great Piazza with its marble mansions, the crowd
That had been waiting there will welcome us with delirious cries,
And their tears, turned hard and cold as glass from having been
Held back so long, will fall, and clatter on the stones below.
O let it be soon. Let it be soon.”

small BLUE His book, Almost Invisible, is one the best books that I have read this year, and it's also the only work of poetry that sits on my favorite books for the year. His words really moved me. - John

p.d. james P.D. JAMES
took the classic British detective story into tough modern terrain, complete with troubled relationships and brutal violence, and never accepted that crime writing was second-class literature.
   James, who has died aged 94, is best known as the creator of sensitive Scotland Yard sleuth Adam Dalgliesh. But her wickedly acute imagination ranged widely, inserting a murder into the mannered world of Jane Austen in "Death Comes to Pemberley" and creating a bleak dystopian future in "The Children of Men."
   James told the Associated Press in 2006 that she was drawn to mystery novels because they "tell us more ... about the social mores about the time in which they were written than the more prestigious literature." Publisher Faber and Faber said James died peacefully on Thursday at her home in Oxford, southern England.

(info from Huff Post)

, founder and longtime head of Coffee House Press, has died. He was 65. He had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2006 and stepped down as publisher in 2011, the Minneapolis Star Tribune noted. Coffee House publisher Chris Fischbach wrote the following tribute:
   In 1972, Allan bought a letterpress for $35 at auction, put it in Anselm Hollo's garage, and founded Toothpaste Press. By 1984, Toothpaste had relocated to Minnesota and become Coffee House Press. Today, we celebrate Allan's legacy: more than 400 books published, innumerable careers begun and nurtured, and every dog-eared page and underlined passage he brought to a reader.
   Allan's influence extended beyond the books he worked on–—for 42 years he championed new voices and new publishers and fought tirelessly to get them the attention they deserve. It was a lifetime of service not only to literature but also to the field of publishing, of which he was a devoted scholar. Whether it was choosing just the right font, navigating the changing marketplace of bookselling, or understanding the historical pattern of the changes in printing technology, his wisdom and devotion was unmatched.
I worked for and with Allan for almost 20 years. He hired me first as a letterpress intern, guided me as an editor, and trained me to be a publisher. He was not only a mentor–—he was a friend and a father figure, and I wouldn't be who I am without him. I will miss him.

(info from Shelf Awareness)

small BLUE No, the man wasn't a big name author, he was simply a person who gave his heart and soul to publishing books that he believed in. Good book people come from all directions. – John


, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose verse, overtly political and bitingly satirical, came, as she fondly put it, with “a sting in the tail,” died on Thursday in Sonoma, Calif. She was 89.
   The cause was complications of dementia, said the poet David Rigsbee, a friend and former student.
Ms. Kizer’s poetry is known for its wit, deep intellectualism and rigorous craftsmanship; its stylistic hallmarks include impeccably calibrated rhyme, near-rhyme and meter. It is unsentimental, at times unsettling, but also luminous and warm.
   As a result of her painstaking way of working, and the length to which her poems could run, Ms. Kizer published fewer than a dozen collections in her lifetime. Composing, revising and assembling enough poems to fill a single volume could take a decade.
   She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for her collection Yin.

nadine gordimerNADINE GORDIMER
was first a writer of fiction and a defender of creativity and expression. But as a white South African who hated apartheid's dehumanization of blacks, she was also a determined political activist in the struggle to end white minority rule in her country.
    Gordimer, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991 for novels that explored the complex relationships and human cost of racial conflict in apartheid-era South Africa, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Johannesburg on Sunday. She was 90 years old.

eric hill
British author-illustrator Eric Hill, whose iconic puppy character first peeked out from behind the flaps of
Where’s Spot? in 1980, died on June 6, following an illness. He was 86.
   Hill was born in London, England, in 1927. By age 16, he had left school and taken a job as a messenger at an art studio, where one of the studio artists encouraged him to try cartooning on his own time. He served in the Royal Air Force from 1945–48, and upon his return, he headed back to the art studio and honed his skills. He created a weekly comic strip and did other magazine sketches as well, and eventually worked in both advertising and graphic design at local firms.
   Later, as a freelance graphic designer, simplicity and playfulness remained hallmarks of his art. One of his freelance advertising projects, for which he had created a lift-the-flap device, played a role in Spot’s genesis. In 1978, Hill’s son Christopher, then two years old, was entertained by the flap, and the surprise underneath, on one of his father’s advertisements. Hill found a way to incorporate that type of mechanism into a seek-and-find story about a puppy looking for a ball.

MAYA ANGELOU, whose landmark book of 1969, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings — a lyrical, unsparing account of her childhood in the Jim Crow South — was among the first autobiographies by a 20th-century black woman to reach a wide general readership, died on Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86.
   Her death was confirmed by her literary agent, Helen Brann. The cause was not immediately known, but Ms. Brann said Ms. Angelou had been frail for some time and had heart problems.
   In a statement, President Obama said, “Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman,” adding, “She inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.”
   Though her memoirs, which eventually filled six volumes, garnered more critical praise than her poetry did, Ms. Angelou (pronounced AHN-zhe-low) very likely received her widest exposure on a chilly January day in 1993, when she delivered her inaugural poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president. He, like Ms. Angelou, had grown up in Arkansas.

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America's passion, superstition, violence and inequality, died at home in Mexico City around midday, according to people close to his family. He was 87.
  Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, Garcia Marquez achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
   His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works - among them Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Love in the Time of Cholera and Autumn of the Patriarch - outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.

PETER MATTHIESSEN, a rich man's son who spurned a life of leisure and embarked on extraordinary physical and spiritual quests while producing such acclaimed books as The Snow Leopard and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, died Saturday. He was 86.
   His publisher Geoff Kloske of Riverhead Books said Matthiessen, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, was ill "for some months." He died at a hospital near his home on Long Island.
   "Peter was a force of nature, relentlessly curious, persistent, demanding — of himself and others," his literary agent, Neil Olson, said in a statement. "But he was also funny, deeply wise and compassionate."
    Few authors could claim such a wide range of achievements. Matthiessen helped found The Paris Review, one of the most influential literary magazines, and won National Book Awards for The Snow Leopard, his spiritual account of the Himalayas, and for the novel Shadow Country. A leading environmentalist and wilderness writer, he embraced the best and worst that nature could bring him, whether trekking across the Himalayas, parrying sharks in Australia or enduring a hurricane in Antarctica.
   He also was a longtime liberal who befriended Cesar Chavez and wrote a defense of Indian activist Leonard Peltier, "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse," that led to a highly publicized, and unsuccessful, lawsuit by an FBI agent who claimed Matthiessen had defamed him.
   In Paradise, which he had expected to be his last novel, will be published next week. The book was inspired by a visit in the 1990s he made to Auschwitz.


DORIS LESSING, the British Nobel Prize-winning author, has died at age 94.
   Doris May Lessing was a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. Her novels include The Grass is Singing (1950), the sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–69), The Golden Notebook (1962), The Good Terrorist (1985), and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979–1983).
   A statement from her publisher, Harper Collins, said she "passed away peacefully at her London home in the early hours of this morning".
  She became the oldest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature when in 2007 she won the award for her life's work aged 88, and was only the 11th woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  The author Fay Weldon praised Lessing for "her concern for humanity, her sense of the sweep of history and her ability to place human beings in it".
"She was just the most remarkable writer and we won't see her like again," she added.
  Born in what is now Iran, she moved to Southern Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe - as a child before settling in England in 1949.

OSCAR HIJELOS, a Cuban-American novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love and whose work often captured the loss and triumphs of the Cuban immigrant experience, has died. He was 62. Hijuelos died of a heart attack in Manhattan on Saturday while playing tennis, according to his agent, Jennifer Lyons. 
  The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love became a best seller and earned him international acclaim. He won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1990, making him the first Hispanic writer to receive that honor.

MARCELLA HAZAN, who has died aged 89, introduced America to the delights of proper Italian cooking. In a series of books from 1973, she called time on the masquerade of Italo-American overcooked pasta slathered in viscous tomato sauces and crowned with mountains of inappropriate cheese. She insisted on authentic ingredients, a light touch with stocks (or, more properly Italian, broths), sauces and flavorings such as garlic, and the use of fresh, seasonal produce. This was a revelation to Americans, just as their supermarkets, frozen and convenience food and tomatoes "half-ripe, gassed, shuttled great distances and artificially quickened back to life" had greatly shocked Hazan when she first arrived in New York in 1955.

TOM CLANCY, who has died aged 66, dominated the bestseller lists of the 1980s, with a series of novels that thrust his appealing CIA analyst Jack Ryan into situations that combined the intricacies of cold-war politics with precise details of modern military operations and equipment. With the end of the cold war, Clancy moved seamlessly into the era of terrorism, with no decline in sales; only J.K. Rowling and John Grisham joined him in meriting first printings of more than 2 million copies. Seventeen of his books topped the New York Times bestseller chart, and his income as a novelist may have been matched only by Stephen King.

Author Frederik Pohl, who over decades gained a reputation of being a literate and sophisticated writer of science fiction, has died at age 93. His wife, Elizabeth Hull, said Tuesday that Pohl died Monday at a hospital after experiencing respiratory problems at his home in the Chicago suburb of Palatine. News of his death was first announced by his granddaughter, Emily Pohl-Weary, in a tweet.
   Pohl wrote more than 40 novels. Two of his better-known works were "The Space Merchants," written in the early 1950s with Cyril M. Kornbluth, and 1978's "Gateway," a winner of the Hugo Award for science fiction writing. Pohl was a literary agent and editor before getting his own work published in science fiction magazines of the 1930s. He's credited with launching the careers of James Blish and Larry Niven.
   Posted by Neil Gaiman

I just heard that Fred Pohl has died.
   He was, for me, the last of the Golden Age greats, the first generation of Science Fiction Writers who created the genre. His collaborations with Cyril Kornbluth, his later solo work, were wonderful things: always witty, smart, interested in how people worked and how the stuff of the future would change the people who inhabited it. (I started with The Space Merchants, a book about advertising in a 1950s future. It's still my favorite.)
   He was a literary agent too, and a whip-sharp editor of magazines and books. He stayed smart and he stayed relevant. Samuel R. Delany's groundbreaking Dhalgren was published as a Fred Pohl selection, and became a bestseller. And Fred kept on writing, and even blogging, giving us his memories of his past in science fiction.
  I met him briefly at conventions, but never really knew him (I know his wife, Betty, Elizabeth Anne Hull, much better -- we spent time together in China, for a start). I told him how much I owed him, and how much the world of Science Fiction owed him, and I'm glad I did. I told him I saw him interviewed, when I was a boy, in a BBC documentary on SF writers, and it helped make it real that the things I loved were actually being made by real human beings.
   The world is emptier without him, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction really has passed away."


SEAMUS JUSTIN HEANEY has been hailed as the greatest poet Ireland produced since William Butler Yeats. His death saddened Ireland and packed the pews of Dublin’s Church of the Sacred Heart with other poets, politicians (the president of Ireland) and even rock stars (all four members of the rock band U2).Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has been among those paying tribute, describing Heaney as "our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives" and a "powerful voice for peace". A hastily arranged celebration of the poet's life in Belfast's Lyric theatre on Saturday night was packed to capacity as the audience was treated to poignant recitals of his best known works.
   Mr. Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Robert Lowell had called him “the most important Irish poet since Yeats,” and John Sutherland had called him “the greatest poet of our age.” 
   The internationally acclaimed 74-year-old writer died unexpectedly in hospital on Friday after a short illness.

   Here's a great story by Stephen Thorne, about Heaney from The Guardian

  After taking part in a poetry program for BBC School Radio, Seamus Heaney and I repaired to the George pub, round the corner from the BBC, with the producer Stuart Evans and his wife, Kay. We then walked to Soho for a curry. Outside the restaurant Seamus found a lady's court shoe lying in the gutter. He picked it up and took it with us into the restaurant. 
   During the meal Seamus inscribed a poem on the inside of the shoe. He did not show it to us. After the meal I asked him if I could have it. "Oh no," he said. "It's for the lady." He laid the shoe reverently back where he had found it and we went our separate ways into the night. 
   I often asked him if he had ever had a reply from the shoeless woman. "Not yet," he said. "But you never know." I hope she realizes what a treasure she has.


elmore leonard 
ELMORE LEONARD, JR (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures. Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch. Leonard's writings include short stories that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current FX television series Justified.
  Commended by critics for his gritty realism and strong dialogue, Leonard sometimes took liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding along the story. In his essay "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing" he said: "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." He also hinted: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."



ian banks 
IAN BANKS, a Scottish author, (The Wasp Factory; The Crow Road; Complicity), who had announced earlier this year that he had terminal gall bladder cancer, died yesterday, the Guardian reported. He was 59. He wrote mainstream fiction under the name Iain Banks, and science fiction as Iain M. Banks.  
  Banks political position has been described as "left of center" and he was an open supporter of Scottish independence. In late 2004, Banks was a member of a group of British politicians and media figures who campaigned to have Prime Minister Tony Blair impeached following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Banks relayed his concerns about the invasion of Iraq in his book Raw Spirit, and the principal protagonist (Alban McGill) in the novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale confronts another character with arguments of a similar nature. In 2010 Banks called for a cultural and educational boycott of Israel following the Gaza flotilla raid incident. In a letter to the Guardian newspaper, Banks stated that he had instructed his agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers.
   In 2008, The Times named Banks in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". His final novel, (his 27th I think) The Quarry, will be released by Redhook/Hachette on June 20.

>> two parts of the June 9th entry on Neil Gaimen's blog about Ian

"In 1987 I was at a small party at the Brighton WorldCon in the wee hours, at which it was discovered that some jewelry belonging to the sleeping owner of the suite had been stolen. The police were called. A few minutes after the police arrived, so did Iain, on the balcony of the Metropole hotel: he'd been climbing the building from the outside. The police had to be persuaded that this was a respectable author who liked climbing things from the outside and not an inept cat burglar returning to the scene of his crime.)"

  "In April I heard Iain had terminal cancer.
   I didn't write to him. I froze. And then, a week later, with no warning, my friend Bob Morales died, and I was upset that I hadn't replied to Bob's last email, from a week or so before. So I replied to Bob's last email, although I knew he'd never read it. And then I wrote to Iain. I told him how much I'd loved knowing him, how much I'd enjoyed being his friend, even if we only saw each other in the flesh every few years.
   I finished, I think you're a brilliant and an honest writer, and much more importantly, because I've known lots of brilliant writers who were absolute arses, I think you're a really good bloke, and I've loved knowing you.
   And he wrote back and said good, comforting, sensible things. Goodbyes are few enough, and we take them where we can.
  I hoped that he'd get better. Or that he'd have time. He didn't. Hearing of his death hit me hard. 
  If you've never read any of his books, read one of his books. Then read another. Even the bad ones were good, and the good ones were astonishing."



roger ebert 
The last hand in the "two thumbs up" film critic team, Roger Ebert, died Thursday, two days after revealing cancer returned to his body. Ebert and Gene Siskel co-hosted the iconic review show "Siskel and Ebert At The Movies" until Siskel's death in 1999 after a battle with a brain tumor. The Chicago Sun-Times, the base of operations for Ebert's syndicated reviews, announced his death at age 70. 
  President Barack Obama issued a statement Thursday on the death of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, praising the writer for "capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical."
   "We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition," his wife, Chaz Ebert, said in a statement Thursday.
  "I'll see you at the movies," were the last words Ebert wrote to his readers. They were published in an essay titled "Leave of Presence" on his blog Tuesday, in which he explained he was planning to slow down and reduce the number of movie reviews he wrote.

Ebert on Ebert & the Movies

"The food and drink I can do without easily. The jokes, gossip, laughs, arguments and memories I miss. I ran in crowds where anyone was likely to start reciting poetry on a moment's notice. Me too. But not me anymore. So yes, it's sad. Maybe that’s why writing has become so important to me." — Life Itself

"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough."

On Battlefield Earth (Chicago Sun-Times):
"Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way."


CHINUA ACHEBE, (pronounced CHIN-you-ah Ah-CHAY-bay) the Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic, most known as the author of the landmark novel Things Fall Apart, has died at the age of 82. The Nigerian author and towering man of letters whose internationally acclaimed fiction helped to revive African literature and to rewrite the story of a continent that had long been told by Western voices, died on Thursday in Boston. His agent in London said he had died after a brief illness. Mr. Achebe had used a wheelchair since a car accident in Nigeria in 1990 left him paralyzed from the waist down.
   Achebe's canonical work, the story of an Ibo man named Okonkwo, was published in 1958 and sold at least 10 million copies. African scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah once said that it is "impossible" to determine just how much the book has influenced African writing because it would be "like asking how Shakespeare influenced English writers or Pushkin influenced Russians. Achebe didn't only play the game, he invented it."
   His best known works: The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God; also A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah.


In 2009, when he was nominated for the Man Booker international prize, Evan S Connell was little known to the general public. Over a career that spanned more than half a century, Connell, who has died aged 88, avoided the spotlight and shunned academia, but he established himself as a writer's writer. His 19 books, which ventured into unpredictable subjects, included short stories, poetry, essays and non-fiction. He was best known for his debut novel, Mrs. Bridge (1959), which with its sequel, Mr. Bridge (1969), was made into the Merchant Ivory film Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990), starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Son of the Morning Star (1985), Connell's magnificent study of General Custer's last stand, was described by the writer Larry McMurtry as "one of the few masterpieces to concern itself with the American west".


jack gilbert
JACK GILBERT, a prize-winning poet known for his clear and subtle verse, has died at age 87. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Gilbert died Tuesday in Berkeley, California, after suffering for years from Alzheimer's disease. His many honors included the Yale Younger Poets prize for his 1962 debut, Views of Jeopardy, and a National Book Critics Circle award for Refusing Heaven. The Pittsburgh native also wrote the novels My Mother Taught Me and Forever Ecstasy. Gilbert was a private man who rarely attended book parties or gave readings. He wrote often about Pittsburgh and his childhood, food and sex, and personal pain.


david rakoff
DAVID RAKOFF, a writer known for his funny, cynical essays and frequent appearances on This American Life, has died at 47. He had been battling a malignant tumor since 2010.


robert hughes
ROBERT HUGHES, the eloquent, combative art critic and historian who lived with operatic flair and wrote with a sense of authority that owed more to Zola or Ruskin than to his own century, died on Monday at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. He was 74 and had lived for many years in Briarcliff Manor, New York.


gore vidal
GORE VIDAL dies at 86.

Dick Cavett on Vidal, from CNN
"You can be sure of one thing. Gore Vidal hates being dead."

"Unless of course we die and go somewhere where you can write, drink, have sex, appear on TV and, above all else, talk."

"I once asked Gore his philosophy of how to conduct your life. The immediate answer: 'Never turn down an opportunity for sex or being on TV.' "

"He wrote enough for 10 men. Aside from his prodigious output of novels, historic and political essays, movies, TV scripts and hit plays, he was—I feel safe in saying—the best talker since Oscar Wilde."

"I once startled Gore by saying I'd just read that each drink kills more than 10,000 brain cells. He paled. 'But you've got billions of brain cells,' I reassured him. Gore responded: 'But I've had billions of drinks.'  "

Vidal "meant everything to me when I was learning how to write and learning how to read,"
Dave Eggers said at the 2009 National Book Awards ceremony, where he and Vidal received honorary citations. "His words, his intellect, his activism, his ability and willingness to always speak up and hold his government accountable, especially, has been so inspiring to me I can't articulate it."

a few Gore quotes

"Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”

"The unfed mind devours itself.”

“As I looked back over my life, I realized that I enjoyed nothing—not art, not sex—more than going to the movies."

small BLUE
On a personal note, I once heard Vidal speak at an outdoor event for peace down in San Diego around 1982. Before everything got started, the Moonies were moving around the stadium in their robes, passing out some very healthy snacks ... that ended up being my dinner. It was a perfect San Diego evening and Vidal was running  for the U.S. Senate at the time, where he lost to Jerry Brown, who, in the end, lost to Pete Wilson. He was just as impressive in person as he always was on my TV all those years. It was one of the most intelligent political speeches that I have ever heard. His mind was inspiring and he was so good at cutting through all the political bullshit. But how often does a smart, sharp mind get elected in this country? He gave me hope and his ego easily filed the stadium that night. John


RAY BRADBURY, a master of science fiction whose imaginative and lyrical evocations of the future reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles, at age 91. By many estimations Mr. Bradbury was the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream. His name would appear near the top of any list of major science fiction writers of the 20th century, beside those of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein and the Polish author Stanislaw Lem.
   President Obama paid tribute. Citing Bradbury’s “gift for storytelling” that “reshaped our culture and expanded our world,” Obama praised the author of 11 novels and 600 short stories, for understanding “that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change and an expression of our most cherished values.”

       quotes from Ray:

"I sometimes get up at night when I can't sleep and walk down into my library and open one of my books and read a paragraph and say, 'My God, did I write that?'"

"I don't believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously."

"There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel."



carlos fuentes
CARLOS FUENTES, Mexico's most celebrated novelist and among Latin America's most prominent authors, died on May 15. He played a dominant role in Latin America's novel-writing boom by delving into the failed ideals of the Mexican revolution. He died Tuesday in a Mexico City hospital, where he was taken after he had a sudden internal hemorrhage that caused him to lose consciousness.
   His generation of writers, including Colombia's Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa, drew global readership and attention to Latin American culture during a period when strongmen ruled much of the region. Fuentes was the driving force in bringing together the Latin writers who collectively became known as "The Boom", said Raymond L. Williams, a professor of Latin American literature at the University of California, Riverside.
   And he was outspoken. Once considered a Communist and sympathizer of Cuba's Fidel Castro, Fuentes was denied entry into the U.S. under the McCarren-Walter Act. Having spent some of his childhood in the U.S. as the son of a Mexican diplomat, he said it grated on him that his left-of-center politics meant he often was portrayed as anti-American. He was critical of American governments and of a rich country that should attend to its poor, but not of Americans and American culture. "To call me anti-American is a stupendous lie, a calumny. I grew up in this country. When I was a little boy I shook the hand of Franklin Roosevelt and I haven't washed it since," he said with characteristic good humor in an unpublished 2006 interview in Los Angeles. 
  Fuentes was born in Panama on Nov. 11, 1928, to Mexican parents. He lived most of his life abroad, growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro; Washington; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. He later divided his time between homes in Mexico City and London, where he did most of his writing.  
 One subject Fuentes always postponed was writing about himself. "One puts off the biography like you put off death," he said. "To write an autobiography is to etch the words on your own gravestone."


MAURICE BERNARD SENDAK, 83, artist and writer, who told stories about the truth, light and dark, to children and adults alike, died Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He had had a stroke four days before. He was widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche. His best known work was Where the Wild Things Are, which was first published in 1963. 
   Sendak was born in Brooklyn, to Polish Jewish immigrant parents Sadie and Philip Sendak, a dressmaker. The author described his childhood as a "terrible situation" because of his extended family's dying in The Holocaust, which exposed him at an early age to death and the concept of mortality. His love of books began at an early age when he developed health problems and was confined to his bed.
   Sendak mentioned in a September 2008 article in The New York Times that he was gay and had lived with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn, for 50 years before Glynn’s death in May 2007. Revealing that he never told his parents, he said, "All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew."

 quotes from Maurice

"I don't believe in children. I don't believe in childhood. I don't believe that there's a demarcation. 'Oh you mustn't tell them that. You mustn't tell them that.' You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it's true. If it's true you tell them."

"Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children's letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, "Dear Jim: I loved your card." Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, "Jim loved your card so much he ate it." That to me was one of the highest compliments I've ever received. He didn't care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it."


ms rich
Poet and civil-rights activist ADRIENNE RICH has died of complications of rheumatoid arthritis at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif., her family said. She was 82. One of the most influential writers of the feminist movement, Rich penned 24 volumes of poetry and more than half-a-dozen of prose. Her life as a Jewish lesbian informed her work, which largely addressed identity politics, The New York Times said. The Baltimore-born author was honored with the National Book Foundation's medal for distinguished contribution to American letters in 2006, a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1994 and a National Book Award for poetry for her 1973 masterwork Diving Into the Wreck.
   "She was very courageous and very outspoken and very clear," said her longtime friend W.S. Merwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. "She was a real original, and whatever she said came straight out of herself."


jan B  
JAN BERENSTAIN, who with her husband Stan wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books, those gentle bestsellers for preschoolers, has died at age 88. For fifty years they created this small, little books, that always had simple lessons about kindness and tidiness. With Stan, who died in 2005, Ms. Berenstain wrote more than 300 books about a tidy nuclear family of plainspoken bears known as Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear. Books featuring the Berenstain Bears (the authors toyed with penguins at first, but decided bears were more like humans) sold more than 200 million copies. The family also appeared in an animated television series and more than 20 television movies.

The great Polish poet WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA has died at the age of 88. Her work touched millions around the world. Filmmaker Woody Allen, said of the poet, "She is able to capture the pointlessness and sadness of life, but somehow still be affirmative."
   Two decades ago, Szymborska couldn't have fathomed that she would ever receive so much attention. At the time, she was living in relative anonymity in a small soviet-style apartment in Krakow. Everything changed when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. She was so shocked to receive the honor that she was unable to write for years afterwards. Thankfully for the world, her poetry recovered. That remarkable poetry is accessible, wise, and powerfully resonant despite Szymborska's light touch.
   She was 16 when Nazi Germany invaded her home country of Poland in 1939 and for decades after the war her country was under the totalitarian grip of the Soviet Union. But while Szymborska never shied from looking life's grim realities in the eye, she always found things to embrace. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski wrote of her death,
"For decades she infused Poles with optimism and with trust in the power of beauty and the might of the word."

r hill
Crime fiction author REGINALD HILL, whose Yorkshire detective duo Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe gained international readership, has died, the Guardian reported. He was 75. Ian Rankin called Hill a "traditional crime writer, but with a modern sensibility." Hill called himself a crime novelist, but his work owed nothing to the hard-boiled tradition of the genre. His approach was cerebral, his plots labyrinthine, his characterizations sharply etched, and his dialogue richly laced with humor. His novels bristle with shrewd perceptions and whimsical wit. He wrote 24 bestselling Dalziel and Pascoe novels, which were the basis of 12 successful BBC television series.

I could tell you about the latest e-books, bookstores closing, Amazon's news about scanning products (with their stupid/smartphone app) in brick and mortar stores to find them cheaper at amazon.com, but instead I bring you notice of this mere bookseller. He reopened a very famous bookstore in Paris and lived books, culture—and more importantly—people. He was known to let struggling writers sleep in the bookstore in exchange for a few hours work in the store. By his own estimate, he lodged some 40,000 people. GEORGE WHITMAN died peacefully at home in the apartment above his bookshop. George suffered a stroke two months ago, but showed incredible strength and determination up to the end, continuing to read every day in the company of his daughter, Sylvia, his friends and his cat and dog.

As Mr. Whitman put it,
“I wanted a bookstore because the book business is the business of life.” 

'Whitman Put 'People, Culture and Books Before Money'
"I found a second home at Shakespeare and Company. George always gave special privileges to writers--he lent me his dog to keep me company. He was an affront to modern capitalism, because h ran a successful business that put people, culture and books before money. He made his own world, and that is the best that anyone can do."


chris H
We have also lost author CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS. Love him or hate him, he always freely gave a good argument and his viewpoint. His style and personality will be missed.  
Lastly, here's a Hitchens golden nugget from the Guardian website: Perhaps the most useful takeaway from a life so publicly and combatively well lived are these words of wisdom: "The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics."

ANNE MCCAFFREY, 85, author of nearly 100 books, co-author of more than 30 and best known for the Dragonriders of Pern series, died November 21, 2011 of a massive stroke at home in Ireland. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo Award (1968) and the Nebula (1969). She was was born in Cambridge, Mass., and grew up in Montclair, N.J.   


                   need more death - jump back to deaths in: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011                      
mt view
One of our favorite Oakland places is the Mountain View Cemetery at the end of Piedmont Avenue. I've been a graveyard lover since I was a child visiting old New England resting places of all kinds. Mountain View is a grand place (over 200 acres) and we get out there at least once a month. It a wonderful place to take pictures, relax and reflect, and to bring a picnic and a good book. They give very interesting guided tours, the architecture is spectacular, and the grounds were designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted (of NYC's Central Park fame) and it all started back in 1863.

more on Mountain View Cemetery:
- livesofthedead.com

more on graveyards:
- association of graveyard rabbits  
me and my shadow
shadow of a man & his camera

home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore traveler | book awards | to the top