- Since its 1966 debut, Truman Capote’s chilling true-crime classic In Cold Blood has been regarded as the original “nonfiction novel”—a revelation in literature that combined the factuality of journalism with the literary finesse of fiction. But a recent claim made by the son of the man who investigated the real-life murder case indicates that Capote may have taken more artistic license in writing the account than previously thought. READ FULL STORY
Tag: In Memoriam (1-10 of 69)
- Author Daniel Handler, better known by his pen name Lemony Snicket, announced his donation of a huge sum of money to the We Need Diverse Books Indiegogo campaign after apologizing for racially offensive comments he made while hosting the National Book Awards last week. Handler promised a $10,000 donation to the organization in a series of tweets—plus matching funds for donations made in the following 24 hours, up to $100,000. After apologizing for his “monstrously inappropriate” and “racist“ comments on Twitter, Handler wrote: “It would be heartbreaking for the
#NBAwards conversation to focus on my behavior instead of great books. So can we do this?… Let’s donate to #WeNeedDiverseBooks to #CelebrateJackie… Brown Girl Dreaming is an amazing novel and we need more voices like Jacqueline Woodson.” Handler’s $100k pledge did not go unnoticed—donors rallied and amassed the funds within 24 hours. READ FULL STORY
- Renowned American poet Galway Kinnell died of leukemia last week at the age of 87. Kinnell received numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for 1982’s Selected Poems—as well as a MacArthur genius grant, a poet laureateship in Vermont, a chancellorship at the American Academy of Poets, and, most recently, the 2010 Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement. The World War II vet, anti-Vietnam War activist, and civil rights champion infused his verse with the gritty social issues pervading the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. The Los Angeles Times writes that the Kinnell is celebrated for his “forceful, spiritual takes on the outsiders and underside of contemporary life,” and how he “blended the physical and the philosophical, not shying from the most tactile and jarring details of humans and nature.” His work reflects the influence that Walt Whitman and friend W.S. Merwin had on him. Kinnell—who also taught at New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Reed College before retiring in 2011—is survived by his wife, two children from a former marriage, and two grandchildren.
- Amazon is coming to Midtown. The The Wall Street Journal reports that the online giant is set to open its first brick-and-mortar store at 7 W. 34th St. in Manhattan, directly across the street from the Empire State Building. Herald Square, Madison Square Garden, Penn Station—major hubs for locals and tourists alike—are all a block or two away from the retailer-savvy location. In addition to the nearby stores (like the Macy’s flagship location, Forever 21, and H&M)—as well as a smartly timed opening just in time for the holiday shopping season—Amazon’s first serious venture into face-to-face consumer interaction is poised to bring in a lot of foot traffic. (They experimented with a popup Kindle shop in San Francisco last year.) In August, a peak number of about 6,000 people per hour passed in front of the H&M on the same block. Amazon has declined to comment on the story. [The Wall Street Journal]
- Girls actress and creator Lena Dunham is the kind of girl to top bestsellers lists with her debut book. Dunham’s collection of personal essays, is currently second on The New York Times bestsellers list for nonfiction, print and ebook sales combined—and No. 1 on the ebook-only nonfiction list. The book sold about 38,000 hardcovers in the week following its release on Sept. 30, according to Nielsen Bookscan (whose data covers approximately 85 percent of all book sales). READ FULL STORY
Billie Letts, the author of the bestselling novel Where the Heart Is, has died. She was 76, and according to her son Tracy Letts, she died of pneumonia.
Letts taught at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and published her first book, Where the Heart Is, about a pregnant teenager abandoned by her boyfriend and stranded in a WalMart, in 1995. When the book was released in paperback, it caught the eye of Oprah Winfrey, who featured the novel on her television show.
Winfrey’s endorsement shot the book up bestseller lists. The novel has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, according to The New York Times. In 2000, a film adaptation of the book was released, starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd. Dennis Letts, Billie’s husband, and also had a role in the movie—he became an actor once he retired from teaching.
After publishing Where the Heart Is, Letts wrote three more novels—The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, Made in the U.S.A., and Shoot the Moon.
She is survived by three children: Dana Letts, Shawn Letts, and playwright Tracy Letts. Tracy won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for August: Osage County, which was adapted into a 2013 movie starring Meryl Streep.
Nadine Gordimer, a South African writer whose work criticized her country’s apartheid and won her the Nobel Prize in Literature, has died. She was 90.
Born in South Africa in 1923, Gordimer published her first novel, The Lying Days, in 1953. But her preferred form was the short story. The New Yorker published her story A Watcher of the Dead in 1951, bringing her work to an international audience, and she eventually published 22 short-story collections over her lifetime as well as 15 novels and numerous plays and essay collections.
Under apartheid, three of Gordimer’s books were banned for their political content. Those three books—The Conservationist, Burger’s Daughter, and July’s People—went on to become her most celebrated, and are considered essential in postcolonial literature. Gordimer identified South African readership as politically inclined. “In the recognition that the encouragement of literature is part of liberation, trade unions and community groups among the black majority have set up libraries and cultural debate.”
When Gordimer won the Nobel Prize in 1991, she spoke about how writing is a way of understanding the relationship between people and the world, and that political ideas play a part. “We spend our lives attempting to interpret through the word the readings we take in the societies, the world of which we are part,” she said. “It is in this sense, this inextricable, ineffable participation, that writing is always and at once an exploration of self and of the world; of individual and collective being.”
Eric Hill, the author and illustrator of a beloved series of children’s books featuring Spot the Dog, has died. He was 86.
Born on September 7th, 1927 in London, Hill began his career as a teenager, working as an errand boy for an illustration studio while drawing comics in his spare time. By 1976, he invented the character Spot the Dog for his son, Christopher. In 1980, the first Spot book — Where’s Spot? — was published. The book included a lift-the-flap concept, which Hill modeled after a flyer he worked on as a freelance advertising designer.
Spot topped bestseller lists within weeks, and Hill followed up his initial success with Spot’s Birthday Party, Spot Goes to the Farm, and Spot Loves His Friends. Altogether, the books have sold over 60 million copies around the world and have been translated into 60 languages. Various animated television series based on the book’s characters were launched between 1986 and 2000. READ FULL STORY
Writer Susan Spencer-Wendel has died at the age of 47 at her West Palm Beach, Florida, home, The Associated Press reports.
Five years ago, the writer was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerorsis, a neurodegenerative disease commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, when she was reporting at The Palm Beach Post. In response to the diagnosis, Spencer-Wendel went traveling with her family, vowing to enjoy the time she had left. Those journeys turned into the memoir Until I Say Good-bye. READ FULL STORY
Maya Angelou — the trailblazing and award-winning poet and memoirist — has died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the age of 86. Her son Guy B. Johnson, who survives her along with several grandchildren, said in a statement, “Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”
She was born Marguerite Ann Johnson (her nickname, “Maya,” was bestowed by her older brother) on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis. After her parents split when she was 3, Angelou was sent to live with her paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. It was when she returned to her mother and St. Louis a few years later that a series of traumas began: at the age of 8, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She went to her older brother, who alerted the rest of the family. The man was arrested and convicted, though he was murdered before serving any time in jail. Angelou assumed that he had been killed by her uncles, and the young girl didn’t speak for years afterwards. “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name,” she wrote in 1969’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing. READ FULL STORY
Maya Angelou, the Presidential Medal of Freedom-winning writer whose storied, prolific career stretched over five decades, has died at the age of 86. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines confirmed the author’s death Wednesday morning, according to local North Carolina news station Fox 8.
Angelou was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1928. Her tragic childhood — she was sexually assaulted at the age of eight by her mother’s boyfriend, who was later murdered after she testified against him, and as a result of the trauma Angelou didn’t speak for nearly a decade — is chronicled in Angelou’s work, most notably her 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Angelou wrote six additional autobiographies, as well as plays, screenplays, numerous speeches, and countless poems, including “On the Pulse of Morning,” which Angelou recited at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.
A full obituary of Angelou is in the works. In the meantime, take note of the poet’s final message, posted to her Twitter account May 23 — they’re appropriately evocative last words: READ FULL STORY
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