Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recent Losses

The first few weeks of the new year have not been kind to the reading community. By now you've probably heard of the recent deaths of Robert B. Parker (author of the Spenser novels, among many others) and Erich Segal (best known for his novel Love Story, with its subsequent smash movie with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal).

The first few weeks of 2010 have also seen the passing of two great writers and thinkers: Mary Daly, feminist philosopher and theologian and author of such books as Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism; and social historian Howard Zinn, whose best-known book is A People's History of the United States (did you know a graphic novel version of the book was published not too long ago as well?).

I've also recently learned that the world has lost the wonderfully delightful and playful contributions of Stephen Huneck, who took his own life in early January at age 60. Huneck was a folk artist known for his whimsical paintings, sculptures, and woodcuts of dogs, and for his series of books featuring Sally, his black lab. The series includes Sally Goes to the Beach, Sally's Snow Adventure, and -- my personal favorite, although I am partial to all things Sally -- Sally Goes to the Mountains. I love this guy's work -- and I'm a cat person! Boston Magazine once wrote "The work of Stephen Huneck is like laughter; enriching to life and uplifting to the soul."

And today we learned of the passing of J.D. Salinger at age 91 at his home in New Hampshire. Salinger wrote four books: Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and the one for which he is best known, The Catcher in the Rye, written in 1951 -- before retreating to his home and refusing to publish any more.

He once wrote to biographer Ian Hamilton (in the course of suing Hamilton for quoting from his unpublished letters), "I think I've borne all the exploitation and loss of privacy I can possibly bear in a single lifetime."

Let's hope the bad news takes a breather for a while, so we can take some time to appreciate the contributions of the ones we've recently lost.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this list. We are better off for what these people has contributed. And just yesterday I read that Howard Zinn had died too, a great historian and activist of our life time.


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