Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Stories That Will Never Be Told

We did not comment on all of the literary passages that took place in 2010. Sometimes timing prevented our contributions. And, to be very honest, on a few occasions, there was sadness that exceeded words. It might have been because, in this year beyond any in recollection, January truly was the cruelest month. We reported on the death of five authors in January of 2010. By the time that month was over, we couldn’t summon the spirit to cover more. Not for a while, anyway. The stories that won’t ever be told: that’s the thing that always hurts the most.

In mid-January, Canadians in particular reeled at the loss of poet P.K. Page. You would have thought it was to have been expected. Page was, after all, 93 when she died. But somehow there have been few writers with her vibrancy. Somehow, through her work, she just always seemed so alive. Losing her was unthinkable. Until, of course, we did.

Within a few days of that we commented on the death of Boston novelist Robert B. Parker, he of Spenser fame. As Rap Sheet editor and January Magazine senior editor J. Kingston Pierce wrote, “In the literary landscape of crime fiction, Robert B. Parker stood as tall and proud as a Sequoia, firm and never wavering, impossible to miss and commanding our admiration and respect.”

Then -- in rapid succession -- we lost Love Story author Erich Segal, Paul Quarrington (Whale Music, The Spirit Cabinet), Louis Auchincloss (The House of Five Talents, Last of the Old Guard) and Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger. In so many ways, it seemed a very long month.

In February, we were sad to report on the passing of two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, winner of the National Book Award and former poet laureate of Maryland, Lucille Clifton as well as the well-loved and widely read mystery novelist, Dick Francis.

The Ides of March brought the passage of retired head of McGraw-Hill Publishing, Harold W. McGraw, followed in July by the death of Dame Beryl Bainbridge (The Bottle Factory Outing, Every Man for Himself) and, in October, we lost one of the top-selling and best-loved novelists of all time in Belva Plain (Evergreen, Harvest).

In November, we reported on the death of actor, model, painter and author, Norris Church Mailer. Norris had been the sixth and final wife of writer Norman Mailer, who died in 2007.

And a year of passages that began with the death of a prominent poet, sadly ended with one as well, when we reported on the death of the important Russian poet, Bella Akhmadulina.

All of our tributes are labeled as Passages and collected here. Our sister publication, The Rap Sheet, did a much more complete job of reporting on passages relevant to its crime-fiction-focused readership. They’re labeled there as Obits 2010.



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