Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

Marquez-Gabriel-adv-obit-slide-LP84-superJumboNobel-Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez died today in Mexico City at age 87. The Colombian novelist “widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century,” was a master of the literary genre magic realism. In a 1984 interview with NPR, he said his writing was forever shaped by the grandparents who raised him as a young child:

“There was a real dichotomy in me because, on one hand … there was the world of my grandfather; a world of stark reality, of civil wars he told me about…. And then, on the other hand, there was the world of my grandmother, which was full of fantasy, completely outside of reality.”

His 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which poet Pablo Neruda called “the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since Don Quixote” established him as a literary giant. Both the New York Times and NPR have in-depth coverage. And check out the EPL catalog for works by this revered author.


Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014

Matthiessen-obit-4-master675Author and naturalist Peter Matthiessen died Saturday at his home in Sagaponack, New York at age 86. According to this fascinating NYT article, Mr. Matthiessen ” was a man of many parts: litterateur, journalist, environmentalist, explorer, Zen Buddhist, professional fisherman and, in the early 1950s, undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency in Paris.” He wrote more than 30 books, mostly nonfiction, and is the only writer to win the National Book Award in both fiction (Shadow Country) and nonfiction (The Snow Leopard).  His final novel In Paradise has just been published. You can read the entire NYT article here.  And check the EPL catalog for more works by this author.


Alain Resnais, Acclaimed French Filmmaker, Dead at 91.

resnais-obit-2-1393801146731-master675French filmmaker Alain Resnais died on Saturday in Paris at the age of 91. Most well-known for his films Last Year at Marienbad and Hiroshima Mon Amour, Mr. Resnais was often associated with French New Wave directors Jean-Luc Godard and Francoise Truffaut. “Fascinated by the ability of film editing to take apart and reassemble fragments of time, Mr Resnais incorporated the effects of scrambled memories, deja vu and fantasy into his work.” Born in 1922 in Brittany, he began making short films at the age of 14. Although most of his films were serious in nature, he loved cartoons, comedy and Broadway musicals, and was inspired by the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Recently honored at the Berlin Film Festival for his last film “The Life of Riley”, Mr. Resnais was editing drafts for his next project from his hospital bed. Read more about this influential director in this NYT article. And check the EPL catalog for his works.


Author Doris Lessing dies at age 94.

Popular and much-acclaimed author Doris Lessing, winner of the 2007 NobeLessing 2l in literature, died today in her London home. The prolific author of novels and short stories is most known for her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook, a loosely autobiographical exploration of the inner lives of women. Lessing was a harsh critic of society’s treatment of women and minorties, and even as a young woman in her native South Africa spoke out against that country’s treatment of blacks. She also never minced words when being interviewed. In 2007, she arrived home to find her front stoop filled with journalists who informed her of her Nobel prize. She quipped, “Oh, Christ! I couldn’t care less.” Read more about her many accomplishments in this NY Times obituary.

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Marian McPartland, Jazz Pianist And NPR Radio Host,1918-2013

marmcpartAcclaimed jazz pianist Marian McPartland died at the age of 95 on August 20. Born in England and trained as a classical pianist,  she was “drawn to the improvisational freedom of jazz.” and succeeded, according to critic Leonard Feather in spite of “three hopeless strikes against her: she was British, white, and a woman.” Besides recording over 50 albums, Ms. McPartland composed music, and led the way for other female jazz performers from Carmen McRae to Norah Jones. She is perhaps best remembered for her interviews and performances with other musicians on her long-running NPR program “Piano Jazz” which first aired in 1979. In 1958 she was one of two women included in the famous portrait of jazz musicians which inspired the 1994 documentary A Great Day in Harlem. She won a “Lifetime Achievement” Grammy in 2004 and in 2010,  was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. You can read the entire NPR article here and the Washington Post obit here. And check out the EPL catalog for her recordings.


Andrew Greeley, 1928-2013

Greeley-articleInlineControversial Chicago priest Andrew Greeley died Thursday at the age of 85. Although he was an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church, “his criticism was seen as offering the faithful a route back to the church, and helping the church find its way toward embracing them.” In addition to his duties as a priest, Rev. Greeley was a renowned sociologist, a longtime columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, and a best-selling author. His first novel The Cardinal Sins was on the NYT best seller list for eight months and sold three million copies. But above all,  “I always wanted to be a priest”, he wrote. “My core identity is priest. I will always be a priest.”You can read Neil Steinberg’s obituary in today’s Sun-Times or the more in-depth NYT obit. Also check out the library catalog for books by Andrew Greeley.


“The Balcony is Closed”- Roger Ebert, 1942-2013

rebertPopular and Pulitzer-Prize winning film reviewer Roger Ebert died Thursday after a long battle with cancer at the age of 70. Film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, Ebert was well known for his trademark thumbs-up/thumbs-down PBS television show he co-hosted first with the late Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and then with his Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper. He won a Pulitzer in 1975 for distinguished criticism (“the first, and one of only three, given to a film reviewer since the category was created in 1970.”) And in 2005, he  became the first critic to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite cancer surgeries which resulted in losing his ability to speak,   eat, and drink he resumed his writing and television work. Author of more than 20 books, Ebert also noted in his 2011 memoir Life Itself  that he considered himself “beneath everything else a fan.” Tributes have been pouring in from filmmakers such as Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese,  Ron Howard, and colleagues as well as Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel and President Obama. Director Steven Spielberg summed it up best: “Roger’s passing is virtually the end of an era and now the balcony is closed forever.” Read the complete article here which includes special memories, quotes, and some of his best-known reviews. And check the EPL catalog for books by him.


Nigerian Author Chinua Achebe 1930-2013

achebe_337-articleLargeChinua Achebe, one of Africa’s most acclaimed authors has died at the age of 82 after a brief illness. His first  novel Things Fall Apart published in 1958 sold millions of copies and was translated into 45 languages.  Achebe received numerous awards, including the Nigerian National Merit Award (Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement) and more than 30 honorary doctorates, but among the tributes he may have valued most was Nelson Mandela’s: “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe in whose company the prison walls fell down.” Novelist Nadine Gordimer in a 1998 NYT book review called Mr. Achebe “a novelist who makes you laugh and then catch your breath in horror–a writer who has no illusions but is not disillusioned.” Check the EPL catalog for books by the author and see the full article in today’s New York Times.


Van Cliburn, 1934-2013

20120829-CLIBURN-slide-26I8-thumbWideAcclaimed American pianist Van Cliburn died this morning in Fort Worth, Texas at the age of 78. Mr Cliburn skyrocketed to fame after winning the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958 when he was only 23 years old. Given a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, Van Cliburn’s award held in Moscow “was viewed as an American triumph over the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war” turning him into a “cultural celebrity of pop-star dimensions.” He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and started studying piano with his mother when he was three years old – by the age of four he was playing in student recitals. In great demand during the 1950s, Van Cliburn stopped performing in concerts in 1978. His last public performance was to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Van Cliburn Foundation.  Check the EPL catalog for recordings and books. You can read the full obituary in today’s New York Times.


“Dear Abby” Pauline Phillips, 1918-2013

abby-articleLargeAdvice columnist Pauline Phillips died in Minneapolis Wednesday at age 94. Her “Dear Abby” column began in 1956 and appeared in hundreds of newspapers around the world, covering a wide variety of personal topics. The column, still in print and with its own website, was taken over by Mrs. Phillips’s daughter Jeanne Phillips in 2000.  Known for her sharp, sometimes risque replies as well as for her “much-publicized  professional rivalry with her identical twin sister advice columnist Ann Landers”, Pauline’s column had a huge influence on American popular culture. Today’s NYT article discusses her early years, her competitiveness with her sister, and includes some of her more well-known advice:

Dear Abby: My wife sleeps in the raw. Then she showers, brushes her teeth and fixes our breakfast — still in the buff. We’re newlyweds and there are just the two of us, so I suppose there’s really nothing wrong with it. What do you think? — Ed

Dear Ed: It’s O.K. with me. But tell her to put on an apron when she’s frying bacon.