James Crumley, a critically acclaimed crime novelist whose drug-infused, alcohol-soaked, profanity-laced, breathtakingly violent books swept the hard-boiled detective from the Raymond Chandler era into an amoral, utterly dissolute, apocalyptic post-Vietnam universe, died on Wednesday in Missoula, Mont. He was 68 and lived in Missoula.
The Scout Report, a fine weekly newsletter from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin, offers this roundup of stories about the recent death of author David Foster Wallace:
Friends and colleagues remember author David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace, Influential Writer, Dies at 46 [Free registration may be required]
Wallace Invented ‘New Style, New Comedy’
Author created ‘Jest’ in Syracuse
In Memoriam: David Foster Wallace [pdf]
Considering David Foster Wallace [iTunes]
David Foster Wallace: Harper’s Magazine [pdf]
David Foster Wallace: Commencement Speech at Kenyon College
Friends, acquaintances, fellow writers, and others all offered memories of author David Foster Wallace this week in articles, online treatises, weblog posts, and editorials. Wallace, who was perhaps best known for this sprawling masterwork “Infinite Jest”, was thoroughly catholic in his interests, and his work was peppered with references to everything from Continental philosophy to the behavior of cruise line passengers. Writing in this Tuesday’s New York Times, fellow writer Verlyn Klinkenborg commented, “His writing could subsume the DNA of any language, any form it encountered, while remaining completely his own.” During his 46 years, Wallace was awarded the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant”, and also taught at Illinois State University and Pomona College. While many websites offer a way to comment on Wallace’s work and life, the “In Memoriam” site created by Pomona College provides a fine glimpse into the effect he had on those he taught and influenced. One comment offered by Sean Pollack is particularly poignant: “We mourn for a humane and generous teacher and lover of the language.” [KMG]
The first link will take interested parties to the New York Times’ obituary for David Foster Wallace which appeared in print this Monday. The second link will lead visitors to a remembrance of Wallace from fellow writer David Lipsky. Moving on, the third link leads to a Syracuse Post-Standard piece from this Tuesday about Wallace’s time in Syracuse in the early 1990s. The fourth link leads to the previously mentioned Pomona College “In Memoriam” site created for Wallace. The fifth link leads to a special edition of “Politics of Culture” hosted by bookworm Michael Silverblatt. Joined by book critic Anthony Miller they discuss Wallace’s impact on fiction, his generation, and American culture. In addition, a collection of interviews with Wallace culled from the archives of KCRW’s “Bookworm” program is also available. In terms of celebrating Wallace’s life and writing, the sixth link is a very welcome find indeed. It contains links to many of his non-fiction pieces, including his very observant and wonderful take on a cruise-line adventure, “Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise”. The last and final link leads to a transcript of the honest and insightful commencement address that Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005. [KMG]
>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2008. http://scout.wisc.edu/
David Foster Wallace, whose darkly ironic novels, essays and short stories garnered him a large following and made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, was found dead in his California home on Friday, after apparently committing suicide, the authorities said.
Today’s New York Times book section includes “An Appraisal:
Writer Mapped the Mythic and the Mundane” by book critic Michiko Kakutani.
For a brief definition of postmodernism, click here.
Gregory Mcdonald, 71, a former Boston Globe reporter whose best-selling ‘Fletch’ mystery books also were made into films, died of cancer Sunday at his farm in Pulaski, Tenn., according to his manager, David List.
Robert Giroux, an editor who introduced and nurtured some of the major authors of the 20th century and who rose to join one of the nation’s most distinguished publishing houses as a partner, making it Farrar, Straus & Giroux, died Friday in Tinton Falls, N.J. He was 94. . . .
He was also T.S. Eliot’s U.S. editor and published the U.S. edition of George Orwell’s ‘1984.’
Mr. Giroux introduced a long roster of writers who would achieve fame, publishing first books by, among others, Jean Stafford, Robert Lowell, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor, Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, William Gaddis, Jack Kerouac and Susan Sontag. He edited Virginia Woolf, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Bishop, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy, Donald Barthelme, Grace Paley, Derek Walcott, Louise Bogan and William Golding. . . .
To his lasting chagrin, Mr. Giroux also saw two major works slip from his grasp, J.D. Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and Kerouac’s ‘On the Road.’
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.
Prolific American author Phyllis A. Whitney has died in Virginia at the age of 104. Although she did not write her first book until she was nearly 40, she published more than 100 short stories, 73 works of fiction, many magazine articles, and three books about how to write fiction (including Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels, 1976, and Guide to Fiction Writing, 1982).
Whitney was born in Japan and spent much of her early life in China, where her father worked. After his death when she was 15, she and her mother lived in Berkeley, California, and then in San Antonio, Texas. She got married in 1925 and gave birth to her only child, a daughter, in 1934.
Whitney began her career as an author with short stories. She supplemented her income from her stories by working in the Chicago Public Library’s children’s room, where she learned about children’s reading preferences. Her first books were A Star for Ann, 1941, and A Window for Julie, 1943, both of which were novels aimed at career information for girls. She also worked as children’s book editor for the Chicago Sun and, later, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and taught a juvenile fiction writing course at New York University between 1947 and 1958.
Her third novel, Red Is for Murder, 1943, was a mystery. She continued to write mystery novels for both children and adults. She twice won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for the best children’s mystery story of the year.
In addition to her early life in Japan and China, Whitney traveled extensively. Locales such as the Philippines and Hawaii provided the setting for many of her novels.
Her last novel, Amethyst Dreams, was published in 1997. She was working on her autobiography at the time of her death.
Deaths of Mailer, Vonnegut close book on influential Vietnam era :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Books
“Here, a roll call of some of the notables in the arts and popular culture who died in 2007.”
Sadly, it’s quite a long list.
In a piece in the Los Angeles Times Morris Dickstein discusses three literary icons who died in 2007:
American fiction lost three of its most warmly admired figures this year, all dead at the age of 84 after long careers. Critics love the idea of literary generations, but it would be a challenge to find themes or ideas to link the disparate work of Norman Mailer, Grace Paley and Kurt Vonnegut. At a Paris Review gala last spring, Mailer spoke about Hemingway’s enormous influence despite his inability to portray a convincing woman character (a charge sometimes leveled at Mailer himself). Hemingway made up for it, he said, by creating a style. In more modest ways, this could be said about Mailer, Paley and Vonnegut as well. No one would mistake a paragraph of theirs for the prose of another writer.
Dickstein focus on “something these contemporaries . . . had in common: a sense of the breakdown of the novel, blurring the lines between literary fiction and autobiography, but also poetry in Paley’s case, science fiction for Vonnegut, journalism and social criticism for Mailer.”
Of Mailer, Dickstein says, “For all his public antics, Mailer’s most memorable exploits took place in the arena of the sentence: arresting metaphors, paradoxical speculations, physical details that made a personality tangible.”
He says “Paley created a distinctive female voice” and also “was dead serious about leftist politics, to which she devoted as much energy as to writing and teaching.”
And Vonnegut “saw himself as an ordinary Joe with a small, peculiar gift.”
“With their accumulated wisdom, these three writers’ living presence mattered, but we might miss them more if they had not left so much behind.”