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May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou Dead at 86

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By Dan Kedmey.

The celebrated poet, author and civil rights activist passed away on Wednesday in her North Carolina home

Maya Angelou, the acclaimed poet, author and civil rights icon who wrote lyrically of her childhood in the Jim Crow south, died Wednesday morning. She was 86, and her death was confirmed by a family representative and by officials at the Winston-Salem mayor’s office in North Carolina, where she had been living.

Angelou had been honored with more than 50 awards, including the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her collected works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, most notably her groundbreaking memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made history as one of the first nonfiction best-sellers by an African-American woman.

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April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

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April 15, 2014

Sue Townsend – obituary

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:11 am

townsend_book_2879360cSue Townsend was the writer whose diaries of spotty teenager Adrian Mole became a publishing sensation.

Sue Townsend, who has died aged 68, was the creator of Adrian Mole, the spotty, lovestruck teenager from Ashby-de-la-Zouch whose comic chronicles of myriad anxieties – political, intellectual, social, sexual – proved the publishing phenomenon of the 1980s and were turned into successful television series, starring Gian Sammarco as the title character.

Including various omnibuses, there were eventually nine volumes of Mole’s diaries; the last – The Prostate Years, published in 2009 – documented him battling cancer as a middle-aged man who runs a bookshop. But it was the early books that particularly gripped the reading public, selling millions of copies and transforming Sue Townsend, a self-confessed “Old Labour type”, from a poverty-stricken single mother-of-three into a rich woman.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, as the first volume was titled on publication in 1982, unveiled a boy clear-eyed enough to assess the world around him but powerless to shape his own fate. His pursuit of the treacle-haired, middle-class Pandora is defeated by acne, and his self-declared intellectual inclinations by the fact that “I am not very clever”. His slight teenaged frame carried a large dollop of guilt about the state of the nation itself.

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April 8, 2014

Peter Matthiessen, Co-Founder Of The Paris Review, Dies At 86

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December 6, 2013

Rest in peace, Madiba. Thank you for everything.

706x410q70kevin on MadibaFifty years ago Martin Luther King called out in hope, “Let freedom ring”. “Freedom” answered his call by walking out of Victor Verster Prison 27 years later – and the world embraced the human embodiment of that elusive concept in Nelson Mandela. The body that nurtured the concept is no more, and now the world again cries out, “Let freedom ring”, this time in tribute. Hamba kahle, Tata Madiba, your long walk is done. By KEVIN BLOOM.

On the morning of Sunday 11 July 2010, the date of the final match of the Fifa World Cup, the BBC broke the news that the international football body had been placing “intense pressure” on 91-year-old Nelson Mandela to attend the closing ceremony scheduled for later that day at Soccer City. According to the report, Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela had warned that the outing would be “strenuous” for a man of his grandfather’s age, and urged that the decision be made in conjunction with his medical team. In the event, Fifa was granted its wish – on a bitterly cold Johannesburg evening, the global icon was driven around the pitch in a golf cart, from where he waved to the capacity crowd and the entire world. It would be his last major public appearance.

Rolihlahla Nelson Dalibunga Mandela died at 95 on Thursday 05 December 2013.

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November 18, 2013

Doris Lessing, Author Who Swept Aside Convention, Is Dead at 94

By HELEN T. VERONGOS

dorisDoris Lessing, the uninhibited and outspoken novelist who won the 2007 Nobel Prize for a lifetime of writing that shattered convention, both social and artistic, died on Sunday at her home in London. She was 94.

Her death was confirmed by her publisher, HarperCollins.

Ms. Lessing produced dozens of novels, short stories, essays and poems, drawing on a childhood in the Central African bush, the teachings of Eastern mystics and involvement with grass-roots Communist groups. She embarked on dizzying and, at times, stultifying literary experiments.

But it was her breakthrough novel, “The Golden Notebook,” a structurally inventive and loosely autobiographical tale, that remained her best-known work. The 1962 book was daring in its day for its frank exploration of the inner lives of women who, unencumbered by marriage, were free to raise children, or not, and pursue work and their sex lives as they chose. The book dealt openly with topics like menstruation and orgasm, as well as with the mechanics of emotional breakdown.

Her editor at HarperCollins, Nicholas Pearson, said on Sunday that “The Golden Notebook” had been a handbook for a whole generation.

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September 6, 2013

Seamus Heaney (RIP) Reads “Death of a Naturalist” and His Nobel Lecture on the Power of Poetry

deathofanaturalistby Maria Popova

 

How poetry works to “persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness” and remind us that we are “hunters and gatherers of values.”

 

How heartbreaking to learn that beloved Irish poet, playwright, and translator Seamus Heaney (April 13, 1939–August 30, 2013) has died. The recipient of innumerable awards, including the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, he has been noted as the best-read living poet in the world in the past few decades.

To celebrate his legacy, here is Heaney’s exquisite reading of the title poem from his 1966 anthology Death of a Naturalist (public library), followed by his timeless wisdom on poetry, politics, and culture from his Nobel acceptance speech.

 

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June 26, 2013

I Am Legend author Richard Matheson was himself a real legend

LegendThe man behind the best ever vampire novel was a major inspiration to innumerable stars of SF and horror.

By Alison Flood

I am meant to be writing a blog about how I Am Legend, by the late, immensely great, Richard Matheson, is the king of vampire novels. But after finding my old copy on the shelf downstairs, I’ve become somewhat distracted, and would really rather just get on with reading it.

The image Matheson provides, at the start of the novel, of Robert Neville alone in Los Angeles, is one of the most chilling, the most believable, in post-apocalyptic fiction. Shifting from practical and unemotional, to lonely and furious, Neville sits in his barricaded living room, trying to ignore the cries of the vampires, “their snarling and fighting among themselves”, coming from the other side of the walls. Later, “he went from house to house and used up all his stakes. He had forty-seven stakes”. So deadpan. So unnerving.

Then there are Matheson’s vampires – written in 1954, and so much scarier, so much more interesting and memorable and believable, than the hordes of pallid high–school students who keep springing up today.

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June 10, 2013

Author Iain Banks: In his own words

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:14 am

"And I just took it as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought ha, if I was a God-botherer, I'd be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this? And I thought at least I'm free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it."

“And I just took it as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought ha, if I was a God-botherer, I’d be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this? And I thought at least I’m free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it.”

Best selling author Iain Banks has died shortly after announcing he had terminal cancer.

The author of The Crow Road and The Wasp Factory revealed he was dying two months ago.

Last month, in his only TV interview since the news, the 59-year-old spoke to the BBC’s Kirsty Wark about his life and work.

CANCER DIAGNOSIS

“It (my reaction) was along the lines of ‘oh bugger’. It’s one of these things I guess, in a sense, you rehearse in your head. You sort of game it, you play it, you think how would I feel, and how would I react if a loved one dies or is delivered of a verdict, a prognosis like that. If you’re writing about people who are facing death, you automatically have to embody that, you have to take that in quite seriously.

“And I just took it as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought ha, if I was a God-botherer, I’d be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this? And I thought at least I’m free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it.”

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June 7, 2013

Tom Sharpe obituary

Tom SharpeComic novelist in the mould of Wodehouse and Waugh, he was best known for Wilt and Porterhouse Blue

By Stanley Reynolds

Tom Sharpe, who has died aged 85, was in the great tradition of English comic novelists and his bawdy style and vulgar approach were said to have made bad taste into an art form – like “PG Wodehouse on acid”, in the words of one critic. Sharpe did not start writing comic novels until 1971, when he was 43, but once he got going he gained a large readership. He was a huge bestseller whose hardback editions sold like most authors only sell in paperback.

Wilt (1976) introduced perhaps his most popular character: Henry Wilt, a mild-mannered teacher of literature at the fictional Fenland College of Arts and Technology, who gets involved in a murder investigation. Sharpe claimed that the account of teaching day-release apprentice butchers and tradesmen in classes timetabled as “Meat One” and “Plasterers Two” was based on his own experiences as a lecturer at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology.

Henry Wilt has a plain common sense that gives a touch of ordinary, everyday reality to the novel and its sequels – The Wilt Alternative (1979), Wilt on High (1984), Wilt in Nowhere (2004) and The Wilt Inheritance (2010) – which is often lacking in Sharpe’s wilder farcical flights such as The Throwback (1978) and Ancestral Vices (1980). A film of Wilt, starring Griff Rhys Jones in 1989, brought Sharpe an even wider audience, as did the TV adaptations of his novels Blott on the Landscape (starring David Suchet in 1985) and Porterhouse Blue (starring Ian Richardson and David Jason in 1987).

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