Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Authors Top Time List of Reclusive Celebrities

When it comes to rounding up the most reclusive celebrities, a disproportionate number of writers make the cut. At least, that’s what Time found when they made a list of the top ten most reclusive celebrities ever.

Topping Time’s list is JD Salinger who, over the last few weeks, has been getting way more attention than he probably wants. We’ve recently written about Salinger here and here. But, really? Whatever else we might think, it’s just so easy to make noise about him because our hearts collectively weep as the truth sinks in: after all these years, it seems very unlikely that this deeply talented author will ever follow up The Catcher in the Rye. (And, clearly, we’re not about to be fooled by imitations.)

Harper Lee comes in at number four on Time’s list, which actually makes me wonder a bit: just how much is Time scratching here? By all accounts, the To Kill A Mockingbird author is not that reclusive, she just opts not to spend time talking to reporters. Since she hasn’t had a book to flog since Mockingbird, why would she want to? No one talks to reporters if they don’t have to, do they?

Also included is Emily Dickinson, who Time tells us, was a “textbook recluse.” Dickinson didn’t even leave the family’s property for the last 20 years of her life.

Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, who “retreated from the public eye” in 1995 is followed on Time’s list by Thomas Pynchon who has avoided media since the publication of his first book in 1963. The single known exception was for an “appearance” on the animated series The Simpsons in 2004. Pynchon was drawn with a bag over his head but, in case you saw the episode and wondered, that really was the author’s own voice.

Finally, we’re told that Marcel Proust spent most of the last two decades of his life in his soundproofed Paris apartment. Time charmingly tells us that “When Proust met James Joyce in 1922, the two literary geniuses barely spoke. ‘Of course the situation was impossible,’ Joyce later said. ‘Proust's day was just beginning. Mine was at an end.’”

The Time piece is rich with photos and anecdotes and it’s here.


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