Janet Malcolm, Provocative Journalist With a Piercing Eye, Dies at 86 – The New York Times

[Katie] Roiphe put it this way: “She takes apart the official line, the accepted story, the court transcript like a mechanic takes apart a car engine and shows us how it works; she narrates how the stories we tell ourselves are made from the vanities and jealousies and weaknesses of their players. This is her obsession, and no one can do it on her level.”

Source: Janet Malcolm, Provocative Journalist With a Piercing Eye, Dies at 86 – The New York Times

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Literary Links

Beverly Cleary, beloved and prolific author of children’s books, dies at 104

Obituary from the Los Angeles Times.

Larry McMurtry, Novelist of the American West, Dies at 84

Obituary from the New York Times.

I Always Write in the Past: The Millions Interviews André Aciman

Here’s a fascinating article in which André Aciman talks about what he calls the irrealis mood. He defines this mood as follows:

“a category of verbal moods that indicate that certain events have not happened, may never happen, or should or must or are indeed desired to happen, but for which there is no indication that they will ever happen”—that is, “the might-be and the might-have-been.” It is a mood sometimes called fantasizing, or nostalgia, but it is really more multifaceted, informing our experience of art, desire, and even our own mortality.

A reading guide on the Asian American experience from Viet Thanh Nguyen, Charles Yu and more

“If there’s one lesson we keep having to learn in the United States, it’s that ignorance breeds hate and hate breeds violence.” 

The Los Angeles Times offers a list of “more than 40 books on the experience of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in this country, including poetry, essays, memoirs, histories and some of the best fiction of the last couple of decades. Suggestions come from Times staff; novelists including Viet Thanh Nguyen, Charles Yu and Steph Cha; poet Victoria Chang; and a group of scholars from Asian American Studies departments in California and beyond.”

Audre Lorde Broke the Silence

“In her poems and ‘The Cancer Journals,’ Lorde fought to name her experience.”

Emily Bernard’s portrait of Audre Lorde focuses on “Two recent publications, The Selected Works of Audre Lorde, edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, and a new edition of The Cancer Journals, with a foreword by Tracy K. Smith, [that] capture the complexity of Lorde’s singular perspective.”

Lorde treated her body—the range of her corporeal needs, fears, and desires—as a resource of political and creative information, a platform from which she communicated her worldview. She was unique in her determination to speak and write without shame, but at the same time wholly representative, embodying the complexities of a contemporary radical Black feminist identity. Her life emblematized the concept of intersectionality, a term coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe the ways in which distinct social identities, such as race and gender, are mutually constitutive. Lorde devoted her career to building bridges across social divides as well as nurturing the distinct voices of Black feminist writers who responded to the raw physicality of her imagery and her now famous rallying cries, such as, “Your silence will not protect you.” 

How Sara Gruen Lost Her Life

“The Water for Elephants author’s six-year fight to free an incarcerated man left her absolutely broke and critically ill.”

At age 80, Sylvia Byrne Pollack of Seattle will publish her first book of poetry

Don’t you love stories like this? I certainly do!

“Part of the magic of poetry is that, when you write the words, you’re a writer,” Pollack continues. “And once you put them down, they’re not really yours anymore. The reader has to do the other half of the work.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown


V.S. Naipaul, Nobel Prize-winning author, dies at 85, family says

Source: V.S. Naipaul, Nobel Prize-winning author, dies at 85, family says


Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88 – The New York Times

“If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly.”

–Ursula K. Le Guin

Source: Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88 – The New York Times


In Memoriam: Literary Folks We Lost in 2017

This is always my least favorite post of the year.

Here’s a list of people the literary world lost in 2017, including, where available, a link to an obituary and the date of death.

John Berger, 1/2

Nat Hentoff, 1/7

Clare Hollingworth, 1/10

William Peter Blatty, 1/12

William A. Hilliard, 1/16

Peter Abrahams, 1/18

Byron Dobell, 1/21

Emma Tennant, 1/21

Buchi Emecheta, 1/25

Harry Mathews, 1/25

Bharati Mukherjee, 1/28

Barbara Harlow, 1/28

Howard Frank Mosher, 1/29

William Melvin Kelley, 2/1

Thomas Lux, 2/5

Barbara Gelb, 2/9

Dick Bruna, 2/16

Nancy Willard, 2/19

Frank Delaney, 2/21

Gary Cartwright, 2/22

Edith Shiffert, 3/1

Robert James Waller, 3/10

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 3/13

George Braziller, 3/16

Derek Walcott, 3/17

Jimmy Breslin, 3/19

Robert Silvers, 3/20

Colin Dexter, 3/21

Joanne Kyger, 3/22

David Storey, 3/26

William McPherson, 3/28

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 4/1

Glenn O’Brien, 4/7

Patricia McKissack, 4/7

Robert M. Pirsig, 4/24

Anne R. Dick, 4/28

Jean Fritz, 5/14

Neil Gordon, 5/19

Denys Johnson-Davies, 5/22

Denis Johnson, 5/24

Ann Birstein, 5/24

Frank Deford, 5/28

Charles Simmons, 6/1

Juan Goytisolo, 6/4

Helen Dunmore, 6/5

Margaux Fragoso, 6/23

Michael Bond, 6/27

Heathcote Williams, 7/1

Spencer Johnson, 7/3

Kenneth Silverman, 7/7

Clancy Sigal, 7/16

Sam Shepard, 7/27

Judith Jones, 8/2

Janusz Glowacki, 8/19

Brian Aldiss, 8/19

Susan Vreeland, 8/23

Howard Kaminsky, 8/26

Bernard Pomerance, 8/26

Rachel Kranz, 8/28

Elaine Ford, 8/27

Louise Hay, 8/30

Katherine M. Bonniwell, 8/31

John Ashbery, 9/3

Kate Millett, 9/6

Jerry Pournelle, 9/8

J.P. Donleavy, 9/11

Myrna Lamb, 9/15

Lillian Ross, 9/20

Kit Reed, 9/24

Si Newhouse, 10/1

Richard Wilbur, 10/14

Donald Bain, 10/14

Fay Chiang, 10/20

Gilbert Rogin, 11/4

Nancy Friday, 11/5

Pat Hutchins, 11/8

Jeremy Hutchinson, 11/13

Les Whitten, 12/2

William Gass, 12/6

Kathleen Karr, 12/6

Bette Howland, 12/13

Clifford Irving, 12/19

Sue Grafton, 12/28


Literary Deaths: 2016

Last Tuesday (12/27/2016), the day Carrie Fisher died, my Facebook feed was filled with lamentations about all the well-known people who had died in 2016. Later that day came the report of the death of Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, on Christmas Eve. And then the following day Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, died.

Have we really lost more shining stars than usual in 2016, or does it just seem that way because quite a few deaths clustered around the year’s final few days? For the last several years I’ve posted a list similar to this one, and it always seems that the list is longer than we’d like.

Here, with a link to an obituary (if available), are the lights we lost from the literary world in 2016.

Florence King, 1/6

Sylvan Barnet, 1/11

Brian Bedford, 1/13

C. D. Wright

Skip Skwarek, 1/15

Michel Tournier, 1/18

Forrest McDonald, 1/19

George Weidenfeld, 1/20

David G. Hartwell, 1/20

Edmonde Charles-Roux, 1/20

David G. Hartwell, 1/20

Paul Aiken, 1/29

Margaret Forster, 2/8

Jake Page, 2/10

Harper Lee, 2/19

Umberto Eco, 2/19

Louise Rennison, 2/29

Pat Conroy, 3/4

Anita Brookner, 3/10

Geoffrey H. Hartman, 3/14

Jim Harrison, 3/26

Adrienne Rich, 3/27

Frank De Felitta, 3/29

E.M. Nathanson, 4/5

James Cross Giblin, 4/10

Glenn Ellis, 4/11

Arnold Wesker, 4/12

Jackie Carter, 4/13

Jenny Diski, 4/28

Katherine Dunn, 5/12

Yang Jiang, 5/25

David Lamb, 6/5

Peter Shaffer, 6/6

Rhoda Blumberg, 6/6

William Wright, 6/11

Lois Duncan, 6/15

Michael Herr, 6/23

Austin Clarke, 6/26

Alvin Toffler, 6/27

Judy Feiffer, 6/27

Geoffrey Hill, 6/30

Yves Bonnefoy, 7/1

Elie Wiesel, 7/2

Robert Nye, 7/2

William Gaines, 7/20

Tim LaHaye, 7/25

James Alan McPherson, 7/27

Mahasweta Devi, 7/28

Jim Northrup, 8/1

Joyce Carol Thomas, 8/13

Max Ritvo, 8/23

Michel Butor, 8/24

Warren Hinckle, 8/25

Anna Dewdney, 9/3

Robert Timberg, 9/6

Barbara Seuling, 9/12

D. Keith Mano, 9/14

Edward Albee, 9/16

William P. Kinsella, 9/16

Gloria Naylor, 9/28

Dario Fo, 10/13

Lucia Perillo, 10/16

Natalie Babbitt, 10/31

Yumi Heo

E. R. Braithwaite, 12/12

Shirley Hazzard, 12/12

David Berry, 12/16

Richard Adams, 12/24

Carrie Fisher, 12/27

Author News Obituaries

Carrie Fisher, a Princess, a Rebel and a Brave Comic Voice – The New York Times

She entered popular culture as a princess in peril and endures as something much more complicated and interesting. Many things, really: a rebel commander; a witty internal critic of the celebrity machine; a teller of comic tales, true and embellished; an inspiring and cautionary avatar of excess and resilience; an emblem of the honesty we crave (and so rarely receive) from beloved purveyors of make-believe.

Source: Carrie Fisher, a Princess, a Rebel and a Brave Comic Voice – The New York Times

RIP Carrie Fisher

Author News Obituaries

In Memoriam: 12 Authors We Lost Too Soon in 2016

In 2016, we said good-bye to many literary luminaries. These authors have inspired us, challenged us to think deeply, and opened windows into the lives and struggles of others. Here we remember some of the award winners, trailblazers, and creators of beloved classics whose works will stand the test of time.

Source: In Memoriam: 12 Authors We Lost Too Soon in 2016

I’ll post my own list of those whom the world of books lost in 2016 at the end of the year, but here’s a select list that includes seminal works of the 12 authors included.


Anita Brookner, whose bleak fiction won the Booker Prize, dies at 87 – The Boston Globe

Anita Brookner, a British author of lean, elegiac and stylistically polished novels who was once labeled the “mistress of gloom” for her depiction of bleak and disappointed lives, usually of women, died on Thursday.

Source: Anita Brookner, whose bleak fiction won the Booker Prize, dies at 87 – The Boston Globe


Shani Gilchrist Remembers Pat Conroy | Literary Hub

Pat Conroy always managed to put South Carolina’s weirder qualities into gloriously humorous and scientific perspective. This is a rare art as it requires a brand of honesty most people run from before they have to think too hard about it. This honesty requires ownership of both the good and bad aspects of history, requires a person to not take their present-day role in that history so seriously that it becomes polished over with verbal lacquer—most importantly, perhaps, this honesty requires a person to not give a damn what people might say when you sit that history out for all to see. It’s a brand of honesty that holds the nuance of individuality in high regard—another quality that has become particularly undervalued these days.

Source: Shani Gilchrist Remembers Pat Conroy | Literary Hub