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                                          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: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

frank   FRANK DEFORD, the sports writer and longtime commentator at Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio, died on Sunday, according to the AP (via the New York Times). He was 78. Deford wrote numerous books, including several novels. Among his books were The Heart of a Champion: Celebrating the Spirit and Character of Great American Sports Heroes, about the careers of athletes who appeared on Wheaties cereal boxes, and Big Bill Tilden: The Triumphs and the Tragedy, about tennis star Bill Tilden. Deford was a six-time Sports Writer of the Year and a member of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. He was most proud, he said, of winning the National Humanities Medal, the first sports writer to do so. Presenting the award in 2013, President Obama honored Deford for "transforming how we think about sports." He added: "A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love." Deford retired from NPR only last month after 37 years as a contributor. As the AP noted, "He wrote and spoke with a lyrical touch."

, the prize-winning fiction writer, poet and playwright best known for his surreal and transcendent story collection Jesus’ Son, has died at age 67. Johnson died Wednesday, according to his literary agent, Nicole Aragi. Johnson died of liver cancer at his home in The Sea Ranch, outside of Gualala, California.
   “Denis was one of the great writers of his generation,” Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, said in a statement Friday. “He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was.” Johnson’s honesty, humor and vulnerability were intensely admired by readers, critics and fellow writers, some of whom mourned him on Twitter. He won the National Book Award in 2007 for his Vietnam War novel Tree of Smoke and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Tree of Smoke, and, in 2012, for his novella Train Dreams. His other works include the novel Laughing Monsters and Angels, the poetry collection The Veil and the play “Hellhound On My Trail.” The story collection The Largess of the Sea Maiden, his first since Jesus’ Son, is scheduled to come out January from the Penguin Random House imprint Dial Press.
   Many remember him for Jesus’ Son, which in hazed but undeniable detail chronicled the lives of various drug addicts adrift in America. The title was taken from the Velvet Underground song “Heroin,” the stories were sometimes likened to William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and the experiences were drawn in part from Johnson’s own struggles with addiction. Much of Jesus’ Son tells of crime, violence, substance abuse and the worst of luck. But, as related by a recovering addict with an unprintable name (his initials were F.H.), the stories had an underlying sense of connection, possibility and unknown worlds. In the story “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” the narrator looks upon an accident victim, a bloodied man taking his final breaths. “He wouldn’t be taking many more. I knew that, but he didn’t, and therefore I looked down into great pity upon a person’s life on this earth,” Johnson writes. “I don’t mean that we all end up dead, that’s not the great pity. I mean that he couldn’t tell me what he was dreaming, and I couldn’t tell him what was real.”
   Reviewing the book for The New York Times, James McManus noted that “Mr. Johnson’s is a universe governed by addiction, malevolence, faith and uncertainty.” “It is a place where attempts at salvation remain radically provisional, and where a teetering narrative architecture uncannily expresses both Christlike and pathological traits of mind,” McManus wrote.
   The book was adapted into a 1999 film of the same name, starring Billy Crudup and including a cameo by Johnson. In 2006, Jesus’ Son was cited in a Times poll as among the important works of fiction of the previous 25 years. The son of a State Department liaison, Johnson was born in Munich, Germany, and lived around world before settling in the Far West. He was a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop and studied under Raymond Carver, whose raw accounts of addiction and recovery would be echoed in Johnson’s work. Johnson was married three times and is survived by his third wife, Cindy Lee Johnson, and their three children. In a 1984 interview with The New York Times, Johnson cited a wide range of influences. “My ear for the diction and rhythms of poetry was trained by — in chronological order — Dr. Seuss, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, the guitar solos of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and T.S. Eliot,” he said. “Other influences come and go, but those I admire the most and those I admired the earliest (I still admire them) have something to say in every line I write.”
   Johnson's other prose works include 2009's Nobody Move, 2001's SEEK: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond, 2000's The Name of the World, 1997's Already Dead: A California Gothic, 1991's The Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, and 1986's The Stars at Noon.

pirsig  ROBERT M. PIRSIG, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died May 28th at age 88. First published in 1974 by William Morrow, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values was a spectacularly popular philosophy book that was loosely autobiographical, tracing a father-son motorcycle trip and flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Its thesis was that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought. In announcing Pirsig's death Morrow called the book "an enduring landmark of American literature that has inspired millions of readers." In 1991, Pirsig published his second book, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, which traced a sailboat journey taken by two fictitious characters along the East Coast of the U.S.
   Pirsig graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1950 with a degree in philosophy, and then traveled to India for a year and graduate study in Hindu philosophy at Benares Hindu University. He first became aware of Eastern philosophy when stationed in South Korea in the Army. He also enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago. After the success of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig helped found the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, and then lived reclusively. A skilled mechanic, he performed repairs in his home workshop. He taught himself navigation in the days before GPS, and twice crossed the Atlantic in his small sailboat, Aretê. 

bolles  RICHARD N. BOLLES, who's job-hunter’s manual What Color Is Your Parachute? reached the New York Times best-seller list in 1979, has died. He was a former Harvard physics major, Episcopal minister and career counselor whose own twisting vocational path led to his writing What Color Is Your Parachute? — the most popular job-hunter’s manual of the 1970s and beyond — died on Friday in San Ramon, Calif. He was 90. His son Gary said he died in San Ramon Regional Medical Center. Mr. Bolles lived nearby in Danville, Calif. Mr. Bolles (pronounced bowls) originally self-published his manual in 1970 as a photocopied how-to booklet for unemployed Protestant ministers. In 1972, he recast it to appeal to a wider audience and found an independent publisher in Berkeley, Calif., willing to print small batches so that it could be frequently updated. Since then, “Parachute” has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has never been out of print.

colin COLIN DEXTER, the British mystery writer, "whose irascible, poetry-loving detective, Chief Inspector Morse, pursued clues and cask-conditioned ale through 13 novels and a popular television series," died March 21. He was 86. Dexter published his first Morse novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, in 1975, and in "the dozen novels that followed, Mr. Dexter, a fan of cryptic crosswords, planted false clues and red herrings with abandon, presenting Morse, and his readers, with fiendishly difficult puzzles to solve."
   In 1989, the Crime Writers' Association of Britain gave him the Golden Dagger for The Wench Is Dead, and he received the award again in 1992 for The Way Through the Woods. In 1997, he was presented with the organization's Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. The popular Inspector Morse TV series, starring John Thaw as Morse and Kevin Whately as Lewis, ran from 1987 to 2000 (it was seen on PBS in the U.S.) and generated the sequels Lewis and Endeavour. Jeremy Trevathan, Dexter's publisher at Macmillan, said that Dexter's writing represented "the absolute epitome of British crime writing" and his death would mean a "tectonic shift in the international crime writing scene." His most recent editor, Maria Rejt, said Dexter had "the sharpest mind and the biggest heart." The success of the Morse series continues every year and draws tourists from across the world to Oxford. Calling Dexter a "revolutionary," author Lee Child, "He wrote a character without any concessions at all to likely popularity--Morse was bad tempered, cantankerous, esoteric and abstruse--and thereby showed us that integrity and authenticity work best. His literary descendants are everywhere. When our genre's family tree is drawn, he's the root of a huge portion of it."
   Dexter’s 13 Morse novels, which were written between 1975 and 1999, sold millions, and were adapted into a hugely popular television series starring John Thaw as the detective. Dexter’s writing also spawned spin-off TV shows, Lewis – following Morse’s longtime companion – and Endeavour, about Morse’s early days on the police force. Actor Sheila Hancock, who was married to Thaw until his death in 2002 and played a guest role in Endeavour, called Dexter “a sweet, gentle, erudite man”. “Colin seemed to thoroughly enjoy being involved in the program, making Hitchcock-like appearances and hanging out with the cast and crew,” she said. “I think he was deeply fond of both Kevin [Whately] and John. As they were of him.”

NY ROBERT B. SILVERS, the co-founder of the New York Review of Books and its editor since 1963, died on the morning of March 20. He was 87.
   Silvers founded the NYRB with fellow editor Barbara Epstein, who died in 2006, together with publisher A. Whitney Ellsworth and writer Elizabeth Hardwick. He has since been a mainstay in New York literary and intellectual circles. After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1947, the Long Island–born Silvers attended Yale Law School before dropping out to work as press secretary for then-Governor of Connecticut Chester Bowles in 1950. In 1952, he moved to Paris, where he served with the U.S. Army at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. While in Paris, Silvers attended the Sorbonne and École des Sciences Politiques, joined the editorial board of The Paris Review in 1954 under George Plimpton, and became Paris editor at the Review in 1956. He served a stint as associate editor of Harper's from 1959 to 1963 before joining the NYRB, where he would remain for the rest of his career. Silvers was also the editor of the book Writing in America and the translator of La Gangrène, which describes the torture of seven Algerian men by the Paris Security Police in 1958 under Charles de Gaulle. "Bob Silvers liked to describe his position as being someone in the middle distance, standing between his writers and the readers," NYRB publisher Rae Hederman said. "He always wanted to give complete support to his contributors but never to put himself forward to the public; he wanted the public to know his writers, not him. His always exhausting work schedule was known to many as was his determination to make each article the best it could be. He was unrelenting in his support of what he believed was right and fair and those efforts made him and The New York Review forces for the good."

This article has been updated with comment from the New York Review of Books.

DW DEREK WALCOTT, the Caribbean poet and playwright who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, has died. He was 87. The New York Times said that Walcott's "intricately metaphorical poetry captured the physical beauty of the Caribbean, the harsh legacy of colonialism and the complexities of living and writing in two cultural worlds.... [Walcott's] expansive universe revolved around a tiny sun, the island of St. Lucia. Its opulent vegetation, blinding white beaches and tangled multicultural heritage inspired, in its most famous literary son, an ambitious body of work that seemingly embraced every poetic form, from the short lyric to the epic." Among those works were Omeros, the Homeric epic poem considered by many to be his masterpiece; In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960; and the play Dream on Monkey Mountain, which won an Obie. He was also a painter and watercolorist, whose pieces illustrated some of his work, and received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

(from Shelf Awareness)

george GEORGE BRAZILLER, who began his career in books in the 1930s and published such international literary stars as Jean-Paul Sartre and Andre Malraux, died in New York City on March 16. He was 101. Born in Brooklyn in 1916, Braziller got his first job in publishing at the age of 20; he was a clerk for a remainder book company. It was there that he learned the basics of the book industry. In 1941 he quit, after the company refused to give him a $1 raise, and founded The Book Find Company, which bought and resold remaindered books under a subscription model.

Hsmith HUSTON SMITH, "a renowned scholar of religion who pursued his own enlightenment in Methodist churches, Zen monasteries and even Timothy Leary's living room," died December 30, the New York Times reported. He was 97. Smith was best known for The Religions of Man (1958), "which has been a standard textbook in college-level comparative religion classes for half a century. In 1991, it was revised and expanded and given the gender-neutral title The World's Religions. The two versions together have sold more than three million copies," the Times wrote. In 1996, Bill Moyers showcased Smith in a five-part PBS series, The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith. Richard D. Hecht, a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, called Smith "one of the three greatest interpreters of religion for general readers in the second half of the 20th century," along with Joseph Campbell and Roderick Ninian Smart. The Times noted that it was "through psychedelic drugs in the early 1960s that Professor Smith believed he came closest to experiencing God." Although Smith later became disenchanted with Leary, the drug experiments led him to write Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals.
   Smith's other books include Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine; The Illustrated World's Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions; Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World's Religions; Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief; and The Soul of Christianity: Restoring the Great Tradition.

WPB Exorcist author WILLIAM PETER BLATTY dies aged 89 The author and filmmaker, most famous for his 1971 novel about a possessed child, died of a form of blood cancer. Blatty was most famous for his 1971 horror story, which told the story of a child possessed by a demon. The image of the demonic Regan became iconic among horror fans and the novel was a huge bestseller, remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 straight weeks and at the No 1 spot for 17 of them.
   Written in 1971, The Exorcist was never intended to be a horror novel. When Blatty started it, he told the Los Angeles Times, he intended to write "a supernatural detective story that was filled with suspense with theological overtones." He wasn't trying to be scary – but as he delved into the Roman Catholic ritual of exorcism, he created a terrifying tale for the ages. Inspired by a variety of real people and real cases of alleged possession and exorcism, The Exorcist didn't initially look as if it would be a best-seller. As Blatty told it, copies sat resolutely on bookstore shelves, and some bookstores were even returning mass quantities of unsold books to the publisher – this despite the fine reviews the book received and the heavy-duty marketing it received from publisher Harper & Row. Readers just weren't picking it up, and neither were Hollywood executives to whom Blatty pitched the story as a movie.
   In 1973, Blatty won an Oscar for his screenplay of his own book and later wrote and directed a film sequel, 1990’s The Exorcist III. Blatty died on Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where he lived. The news was announced on social media by Exorcist director William Friedkin on Friday. Blatty’s widow, Julie Alicia Blatty, told the Associated Press the cause of death was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

Jberger JOHN BERGER, art critic and author, dies aged 90 Booker-prize-winning author of titles including Ways of Seeing, G and A Painter of our Time had been living in Paris.
   Interview: "If I'm a storyteller it's because I listen."
   John Berger’s Way of Seeing was made into a BBC series in 1972, the same year he won the Booker prize for G. Berger helped transform the way a generation looked at and perceived art. The actor and director Simon McBurney tweeted his reaction to Berger’s death: "Art and the wider world seemed to make more sense after watching Berger on the BBC, with his piercing blue eyes, steady delivery and groovy seventies shirt, eloquently explain perspective or the idealization of the nude." Susan Sontag once described Berger as peerless in his ability to make “attentiveness to the sensual world” meet “imperatives of conscience”. Jarvis Cocker, to mark a recent book of essays about Berger, said: “There are a few authors that can change the way you look at the world through their writing and John Berger is one of them.” In reaction to the news of his death, artist David Shrigley called Berger “the best ever writer on art”, and author Jeanette Winterson praised him as “an energy source in a depleted world”.

         Need more death - Jump back to deaths in: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011
mt view
One of our favorite Oakland places is the Mountain View Cemetery at he 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 me & my camera

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