Ebert wrote more books than any TV personality since Steve Allen — 17 in all. Not only collections of reviews, both good and bad, and critiques of great movies, but humorous film term glossaries and even a novel, Behind the Phantom’s Mask, that was serialized in the Sun-Times. He even wrote a book about rice cookers, The Pot and How to Use It, despite the fact that he could no longer eat. In 2011 his autobiography, Life Itself won rave reviews. “This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times.
The Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe has passed away. He was 82 years old.
Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart in 1958, his first novel and also his most well-known book. He also wrote Anthills of the Savannah, Arrow of God, and many other books. As a poet, he also released his Collected Poems. Exiled by civil war and politics, he spent many years teaching in the United States. Here is a quote Anthills of the Savannah to remember the great writer:
Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit — in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever.
Ronan was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease when he was only nine months old. His mother captured their experiences as the family took this unimaginable journey together with Ronan, nicknamed “little seal.” His family posted this note:
Ronan passed away peacefully on Thursday, Feb. 15th at about 3:30 am in Santa Fe. He was surrounded by friends and family. If you would like to make a donation in Ronan’s memory, please do so at the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, who have been a huge support to Emily and her family.
Gail Lynn Frazer, a mystery author who wrote under the pseudonym Margaret Frazer, has passed away. She was 66 years old. Her son, Justin Alexander, revealed the sad news on her website.
Throughout her career, Frazer (pictured) wrote more than twenty books. The award-winning writer was nominated twice for the prestigious Edgar Award. A funeral has been planned for February 8th.
Here’s more from the announcement: “Twenty years ago, Frazer’s first novel – The Novice’s Tale – was published the same summer that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She published her twenty-fifth novel – The Circle of Witches – last December at a time when she was struggling with the fifth recurrence of the cancer. She fought long, she fought stubbornly, and she refused to be defined by the disease which ultimately claimed her life. In her work, she sought the unique pleasure of thoroughly exploring the otherwhen and otherwhere.” (via Mystery Fanfare)
Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, has passed away. He was 88 years old.
Throughout his lifetime, Koch wrote and co-authored several books including Mayor (1984), All the Best: Letters From a Feisty Mayor (1990) and Citizen Koch: An Autobiography (1992). According to CNN, a funeral has been planned for February 4th.
Here’s more from the article: “The lawyer-turned-public servant was a U.S. congressman from 1968 until he ran for mayor of the city in 1977. He served three terms until David Dinkins defeated him in a Democratic primary.”
Her plays included Beautiful Señoritas, (1977), A House of Her Own (1999) and Four Guys Named José … and Una Mujer Named María! (2000).
Here is an excerpt from one of her 2011 columns for the Daily News:
As I celebrate my 50th anniversary as a New Yorker, the one regret I have, the one shadow marring and in a way devaluing all the good things that have happened, is that today, as an American citizen with a Hispanic name, I feel less welcome than in 1961. There’s an atmosphere of hate and rejection toward immigrants, and too many ears are now closed to what we have to say. It’s an invisible, insurmountable wall keeping us apart. It’s sad, I know but, hey, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.
Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips, the woman who started the iconic “Dear Abby” advice column, has died. She was 94 years old.
Phillips began the column in 1956, answering questions from people around the world. She wrote six books, including Dear Abby, The Best of Dear Abby and Where Were You When President Kennedy was Shot?
Her column has inspired more than 20 songs, and we’ve created a Spotify playlist of “Dear Abby” songs below…
Author Evan S. Connell has passed away. He was 88-years-old.
Born in Kansas City, Connell wrote novels, short stories and poetry, publishing seventeen books in his lifetime. These included Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) and Son of the Morning Star (1984).
Here’s more from Counterpoint Press, publisher of his forthcoming collection of prose poems:
His novels were adapted into the critically acclaimed 1990 Merchant-Ivory film Mr. and Mrs. Bridge starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward … Connell was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize) for “a living author with a substantial connection to the American West, whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition. In 2009 Evan Connell was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, for lifetime achievement.
Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ben Cramer has passed away.
He was the author of a number of books, including What It Takes: The Way to the White House and Joe DiMaggio. The journalist was a finalist or winner for the Pulitzer Prize four times: 1979, 1981, 1995, 1996. His Middle East reporting won the international reporting prize in 1979.
Here’s a tribute to his presidential election book, What It Takes: “It’s insufficient to say that Cramer’s 1,047-page tour de force on the 1988 presidential race is the best book ever written about a campaign. It is that. But what makes it so valuable, so rewarding, just so much damn fun is that it illustrates why politics and journalism is so much damn fun … as with a classic movie, aficionados have their favorite characters in their favorite scenes that they love to watch again and again.” (Photo via)
Literary agent Robert Lescher has passed away. He was 83-years-old.
Lescher established his career in the publishing industry as an editor. He climbed his way up and obtained the title of editor-in-chief at Henry Holt & Company. During his tenure at Holt, he edited the works of legendary poet Robert Frost, short story writer Wolcott Gibbs and memoirist Alice B. Toklas.
Here’s more from The New York Times: “When Mr. Lescher began his literary agency in 1965, his reputation for aesthetic insight and painstaking attentiveness to writers made him highly sought after…[Lescher's] clients included Frances FitzGerald, Benjamin Spock, Paula Fox, Madeleine L’Engle, Andrew Wyeth and Georgia O’Keeffe. Isaac Bashevis Singer, having served as his own agent for many years, hired Mr. Lescher in 1972, six years before Singer would receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.” (via Shelf Awareness)