Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Passing of Icons

by Jo Robertson

My husband says everything comes in three’s. Three natural disasters in a row, three appliances breaking down within months of one another, three celebrity deaths.

This week two very different but memorable writers passed away.

According to reports, American crime writer Robert B. Parker died at the age of 77 at his desk, writing, of course -- the literary equivalent of a cowboy dying with his boots on. The incredibly prolific writer, noted especially for the Spenser (no first name) series (“s,” not “c,” like Edmund Spenser), also penned the Sunny Randall series, as well as my personal favorite, the Jesse Stone books. He also wrote numerous stand-alone books and westerns.

When I heard the news of Parker's death, I felt like an old friend had died. He's one of the few writers I auto-buy in hardback and his Spenser books are a throw-back to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet.

Then on Thursday reclusive J.D. Salinger, whose iconic work The Catcher in the Rye has been read by millions of teenagers (usually in their sophomore year in high school), died at the age of 91.

The Catcher in the Rye is rich with teenage angst, rebellion, and alienation. I taught Catcher for many years and have had parents seek me out at Back to School Nights to say, “This was the defining book of my adolescence. Thank God, you’re teaching it.”
Or, on a rare occasion, a parent might grumble something like, “That damned book ought to be banned.” Such controversy has surrounded the book since its publication in 1951.

Risking the wrath of a conservative school board, I went all Holden Caulfield on the latter kinds of parents, showing a spark of courage in my career when answering, “I don’t believe in censorship of any kind.” Ouch, what a rebel.

So now I hold my breath, not really superstitious, but uneasy, wondering silently what I’d do if one of my favorite writers no longer penned the stories I love. It’s unthinkable that I’d never read a new book by Stephen King or J.D. Robb, J.R. Ward or Kate Atkinson, Meg Gardiner or Anna Campell, Mary Balogh or Anne Perry, Robert Crais or Michael Connelly. And the list goes on . . .

Salinger hadn’t published in forty-five years but by accounts there were piles and piles of notebooks at his home. He claimed he continued to write because he enjoyed it so much.

Right now I’m reading Brimstone, one of Parker’s westerns. A new Jesse Stone book comes out next month. Was this the last book he wrote, I wonder?

Now, your turn, readers. Which two authors would you mourn if they never wrote a new piece of writing? They don’t have to die! Just no more new stories. And yes, you must narrow it down to two and you must share why.


limecello said...

:( Howard Zinn died this week too.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Lime, you're back in the running! Mariska was beginning to monopolize the rooster.

Oh, no, I missed that. Things do come in three's.

Tell us a little about Howard Zinn, would you?

limecello said...

Ok... who would I mourn if he or she stopped writing?
Lisa Kleypas for one. And ... :X well generally I read authors who have already died >.< (which now seems really morbid though it shouldn't...)
And... [oh wow, I totally got distracted.]
Erm... Cynthia Voigt. I loved reading her books as a kid, and still re-read On Fortune's Wheel yearly. And I recently bought the Homecoming books as well. Just to have them.

limecello said...

Jo - I promised myself I'd stay away until March... so don't tell Anna, ok? ;) (I did go on a "twitter hiatus" so I can't give up all my vices, right?)

Howard Zinn wrote "A People's History of the United States." I think he's the reason the American history I learned in school had different perspectives, and wasn't all candy coated. The dissent was allowed to have an opinion and voice.
The history channel recently had a documentary - with lots of famous people - The People Speak - which was based on Howard's book and... anyway I have no words for it.

Marilyn Brant said...

Erich Segal (of "Love Story" fame) died on January 17th. I'm still very saddened by that...

Helen said...

Congrats limecello I won't tell Anna have fun with him I am sure he has missed you.

Great post and I too believe that things come in threes. It is always sad to hear that an author has passed on. As to who I would mourn if they never wrote another book that is really hard for me I have so many favourite authors I don't think I could pick just 2 my book shelves of read and TBR books is huge. There are so many authors that I wait eagerly for their next release to have not another one to wait for would be very sad I would have to keep re reading the ones I had.

Have Fun

jo robertson said...

Good point, Lime. I read a lot of dead authors too.

Glad you added Lisa Kleypas to the list; I've only gotten acquainted with her the last five years or so and loved her Wallflower series.

jo robertson said...

That's hilarious, Lime; you'd better watch your back. Foanna won't like your breaking a promise.

Thanks for the info on Howard Zinn. He was quite an outspoken activist and a noted historian, of course. I guess I wasn't thinking of non-fiction, but why not?

peggy said...

I think i would mourn hannah howell and eloisa james if they stopped writting

jo robertson said...

Oh, Marilyn, I missed that one too! I remember seeing the movie Love Story and bawling like a baby. I knew it was deliberately sentimental, but I didn't care. It was so beautiful a story.

Do you remember what else Erich Segal wrote? My mind's blank at the moment.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Helen, I think the cat's out of the bag on that one. Anna's sure to swoop down pretty soon.

Poor, poor Limecello!

So many favorite authors, Helen, I know what you mean. I figure at my age they'll all outlive me!

jo robertson said...

Good choices, Peggy. I enjoy Eloisa James' wit. And I love to hear her talk; she's so clever.

Honestly, sometimes readers feel like they know the writers intimately because they've read and re-read their books. I guess that's the highest compliment you can give an author.

Jane said...

Hi Jo,
I'm really missing Julia Ross right now. She's taken a break from writing and I don't know when she's coming out with another book. Like Lime, I would miss Lisa Kleypas, too.

Laurie said...

Awww... Robert Parker?! He was my husband's favorite writer besides John D. McDonald (and he's been gone awhile now). I'm the book buyer in the household and I've bought dh countless Parker books over the years, and read quite a few too. Sad news.

I don't know if I can pick just two authors but if I had to it would be ones I've read for many years. Linda Howard would have to be one - I love every single book she's ever written. And, I guess the other would have to be Nora Roberts / J D Robb because of her trilogies and the Eve Dallas series.

But I'd be devastated if there weren't any more Suzanne Brockmanns, Christine Feehans, Anna Campbells, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plums, JAK/Jayne Castles, Gena Showalter,s Diane Mott Davidsons,... lol, okay, I'll stop.

I'm still sad there is no more Georgette Heyers to read. I keep reading them over and over.

Laurie said...

Two writers that I would miss the most:

Jill Shalvis- Love her sense of humor, sexy characters and scenes!

Susan Elizabeth Phillips- Love her stories and characters.

My children all had to read Howard Zinn's book. It's interesting and enlightening. Articles and insights that people wrote about historical events.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

One author that has already passed away and I greatly miss was Kathleen Woodiwiss. Where did she get all those words?

An author I would miss would be Mary Balogh. I love the way she writes, she has wit, she has humor, and I believe a very deep insight into human foibles. I love the regency era of romances as a general rule and she writes it so well.

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

I'm not going to even attempt to state whose words I would miss because there are so many talented writers.

I read CITR by Salinger and, um, well, I hated it. I read it about 15 years ago for a Young Adult Literature class I was taking and it was one out of 75 required books.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Jane. I must confess to not having read any of Julia Ross.

Is she taking a hiatus from romance writing or just concentrating on essays and travel writing? Can you tell us something about her books?

jo robertson said...

LOL, Laurie. I know what you mean! Like potato chips, it's hard to stop at just one.

Hugs to your husband on losing Robert Parker. I felt very sad; he was too young to go and he started his career when he was relatively older, yet wrote tons.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Dianna, I was going to mention Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her Flame and the Flower was the first romance book I read and Shanna was one of my favorites. She's another one who died young.

I also adore Mary Balogh. When I finally met her at a RWA National booksigning, I felt like a silly teenager!

jo robertson said...

LOL, about hating Catcher, Deb.

I have a theory about the book. If you read it as a teenager, it becomes part of your soul, but if you read it as an adult, not so much.

BTW, I read it as an adult, but because I taught the book, I learned to appreciate its power.

Kate Diamond said...

I would mourn if Lisa Kleypas stopped writing. Also, Sarah Dessen... great YA author.

Anna Campbell said...

Lime, I thought you and the GR had broken up!

Jo, my family definitely believed in the rule of three too - I still do! My more cynical friends snort at me (usually three snorts at a time) but I swear it's true!

Oh,man, that was serious company you put me in there, m'dear!

Oh, no, I don't want to think about writers not writing for me any more. I just finished a wonderful Kathleen O'Reilly called Midnight Resolutions. I only discovered her in the last 18 months or so so I'd hate her to stop writing just as I fell in love with her stuff. She writes for Blaze and while her books are definitely sexy, that's actually not why they cut me to the heart. I think because they're real and her characters are always so flawed and have such emotional journeys to make. Another writer I've discovered relatively recently is Liz Carlyle and I think her stuff just gets better and better. She creates this particular world and I love to live inside it for the space of the book. And she writes the most wonderful heroes - again, they're real and flawed and passionate and basically just delicious!

Anna Campbell said...

Lime, too late - I KNOOOOOOOWWWWWW!

Jane, I love Julia Ross too and also her incarnation as Jean Ross Ewing. She wrote the most wonderful, unusual historicals.

I was missing Loretta Chase and Laura Kinsale at one stage there but LC has had a few books out in the last six years or so and LK has just put out her first book in five or six years. Phew!

Hey, thanks, Laurie - I'm currently writing another one, just for you ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Deb, I don't really get the fascination with TCITR either. I wonder if it might be a combination of being in my mid 20s when I read it and also not being American. It just didn't connect with me at all. Yeah, I know, gasps of shock!

Jo, I noticed you made the same point about reading it as an adult. I wonder what I'd think if I read it now - I was in a very specific place in my life when I read it, living in London and definitely madly in love with all things British!

Virginia said...

Congrats lime on getting the rooster!

There are a lot of authors I would miss and I am not going to mention any of them because I don't want to morn any of them.

I have a few of Kathleen Woodiwiss on my TBR pile and I am not sure wheather I read them or not but I plan to read them again. There are authors that have passed that I miss so much!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Jo! What a fascinating topic, as always. I'm going to miss Robert Parker for sure.

Like Anna and Deb, I despised CITR. I read it as an angsty teen and I guess I just wasn't that depressed or angsty because I had NO patience with them. Felt that way about A Seperate Peace too, Anna, speaking of all things British. Urg. Required reading. I reread both of them at one point, sure that I had missed some integral, meaningful thing. Evidently, for me, there wasn't any. Snork.

Who I'd miss would be massivly difficult to define. But my auto-buys, (Other than Banditas!) are Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey and Nora/JD. I would definately mourn and pine if they weren't working as prolifically as they are now. :>

catslady said...

First of Jean Auel - She has one more book in the Earth's Children series that started over 20 years ago!!!! The other would be Diana Gabaldon because of the Outlander series. You said two or I could go on and on but series writers would devastate me the most.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Very thought provoking post, Jo-Mama!

I was stunned about Robert Parker, JD Salinger, not so much since he was over 90.

I'm LOL over the comments about TCITR. Like Duchesse, I read it as an angsty teen and I LOVED IT! But then, I'd never read a book with the "F" word in it! I also had to read A Separate Peace as a school assignment and HATED IT! I think the 'school assignment' part says it all. :-P

As for who I'd mourn if they quit writing... ALL the Banditas! Esp. you AYUs! I happen to LOVE some of your great stories, so DO NOT QUIT!


Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, JoMama.

Sadly, I went through this just a few years ago when Robert Ludlum, (The Bourne Identity series, The Matlock Paper, Matarese Circle, The Icarus Agenda, etc..), died.

A ghost writer has taken up where he left off, but despite my son (a big Ludlumite), swearing the books are just as good, I can't quite bring myself to give them a try.

As for another author I'd hate to see stop publishing...Julie Garwood or Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick. They are my feel good authors. Heck, I've been know to bribe the husband with a day at the golf course just so I could spend the day reading either author!

Janga said...

I don't even want to contemplate the end of books from my long list of favorite authors. I long for more books from Julia Ross, Judith Ivory, Jill Barnett, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, and others that haven't gifted readers with a book in too long. But I'll reserve my limit of two for beloved writers who are no longer with us--Edith Layton and Kathleen Givens. They left us too soon.

Anna Campbell said...

Duchesse, I had to look up a Separate Peace. Not sure it sounds like my cup of tea! Hey, given your reaction, maybe I'd still hate TCITR. I just always feel I SHOULD like it. Mind you, I spent a fortune on Woody Allen movies (back in the days when he was the biggest thing since sliced bread) and never could get the attraction. I've kinda decided everybody doesn't necessarily like the same things even if you're talking to your best friends.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Well, friend Anna, I'm with you on Woody Allen too. Never saw the attraction on those movies...then again, I really, really like it when things blow up. Woody doesn't blow things up, ergo...I don't like Woody Allen. Ta-da!

Suz, I'm with you on the ersatz Ludlum books. I just haven't had the heart or patience to try them. I just feel like they wouldn't be the same, so feeling that way, they probably wouldn't be. :>

I'm wondering if that's going to happen with David Eddings and Michael Crichton too - that someone will "continue" the various books for him. Be interesting to see...

Anna Campbell said...

Ha ha, Jeanne, you know I really wish you lived closer! I love it when we get these snap moments. Honestly, I really did go to so many of those films because people who I respected kept saying to me, "But it's not like a Woody Allen movie." And of course, it always was. I think it's like a lot of our favorite or less favorite writers. An artist's world view chimes with ours or just turns us off. WA's definitely turned me off - and this was way before the doldrums in his career when he was winning Oscars like they were going out of style. Just could never get it!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Me either, Anna, on "getting it" about WA.

I also wish we lived closer. I'll bet you'd like a snowball or two right now. We've got 4" of snow and it's still snowing and we're just skirting the edges of this major winter storm. Our NC Banditas are getting whalloped. Grins.

How hot is it in OZ today?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Kate! Tell us something about Susan Dessen. I don't read many YA titles. What's she written?

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "Oh,man, that was serious company you put me in there, m'dear!"

Company that is well deserved, Foanna! Good thing is that you'll be writing long after I'm gone, ha, ha.

And yes, the rule of three is alive and well!

jo robertson said...

Anna, I'll have to try Kathleen Reilly. I love flawed and tortured characters and watching them make a healing emotional journey.

What is it about those tortured heroes that we enjoy so much? I've never been about trying to fix a man, but I enjoy reading about them.

jo robertson said...

Oops, that was Kathleen O'Reilly. I'd better google her!

And I knew Lime wouldn't keep her secret for long!

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "I was missing Loretta Chase and Laura Kinsale at one stage there but LC has had a few books out in the last six years or so and LK has just put out her first book in five or six years. Phew!"

Didn't LK move to Sourebooks? I'm glad to see her writing again after the break.

Do you think writers just get burned out? I'm so new in my career that it's hard to believe that, but I know teachers who burn out after so many years.

jo robertson said...

The cultural thing might also be why you didn't enjoy Catcher very much, Anna. I really do think it's a defining work for adolescents, however. I'm not so sure I'd enjoy it so much if I hadn't had to "study" it in order to teach it.

All of my children loved it, and my youngest daughter even made a video re-enactment for her sophomore English project. That might've been more so that she could use all those swear words, though :-D.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Virginia. Are you having good weather where you are? Move that Woodiwiss book to the top of your pile. Her early ones are especially good.

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, given the huge emotional journey each of LK's books has been, I'm not surprised she needed some time away. But it's wonderful to have her back writing. I'm interviewing her on the Romance Dish on Thursday - really looking forward to that, if I can contain the awe-struck squeals!

Duchesse, I'd love to come over for a snowball fight! We've actually got our first rainy day in ages here on the Sunshine Coast. I'm so glad - the garden's been frying in the heat.

jo robertson said...

I knew you'd miss Parker too, Jeanne. Apparently he wrote about 10 pages a day, pretty fast, and put out 3 books a year. Such a loss!

How's the snow there? Are you house bound?

jo robertson said...

Great choices, Catslady! I loved both the Earth's Children series of Jean Auel and Gabaldon's Outlander series. They're both such rich authors.

jo robertson said...

Yes, Cindy, definitely the Banditas books would be missed.

I feel bad for you and Jeanne not liking A Separate Peace. I adored that book. Maybe you guys just had bad English teachers. Want I should give you a lesson LOL?

jo robertson said...

Oh, and AC, it was probably the eff word that attracted you to Catcher. I read it when I was 40 and, sadly enough, the eff word no longer held such dark attraction for me.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Suz! If I bought a book every time my husband golfed, I'd have more than I could possibly read in a lifetime. Good for you!

Yes, the loss of Ludlum was a big deal, especially for my sons who read him regularly. I didn't know someone was ghosting his books, though.

jo robertson said...

Janga said, "I'll reserve my limit of two for beloved writers who are no longer with us--Edith Layton and Kathleen Givens. They left us too soon."

Thanks for the homage to Layton and Givens, Janga.

I was on a Judith Ivory kick some years back and snarfed up every one of her books.

jo robertson said...

Janga, I was wondering. Do you think writers stop writing when they're older because they don't think they can maintain their quality? Is it like being an athlete, knowing when to quit before you're no longer effective?

What do the rest of you think? Is it better to keep them wanting more than wonder why you're still writing?

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Jo, I've had the Judith Ivory kick too! She's magnificent.

jo robertson said...

I can see why you'd not like Catcher, Fo, but you should give A Separate Peace another try. I love the layers and layers of symbolism and analogy.

P.S. I've never been a Woody Allen fan either. (Ducking now!)

jo robertson said...

Jeanne said, "I'm wondering if that's going to happen with David Eddings and Michael Crichton too - that someone will "continue" the various books for him. Be interesting to see..."

I think that's what James Patterson's doing with his co-writing so many books with different authors. I only read the ones he alone writes, but maybe I should give them a try. Still, IMO, he's not in the same league as Parker or Crais or Lee Child.

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "Ha ha, Jeanne, you know I really wish you lived closer! I love it when we get these snap moments."

Is that the brain snap or the finger snap where you twitch your hips LOL?

I always get really ticked off when people swear I'll love a book or a movie and I HATE it. Especially if they know me well. I think. Uh, YOU don't know me at all, girl! Or guy!

jo robertson said...

Jeanne said, "I also wish we lived closer. I'll bet you'd like a snowball or two right now. We've got 4" of snow and it's still snowing and we're just skirting the edges of this major winter storm. Our NC Banditas are getting whalloped. Grins."

You answered my question about the snow, Jeanne. I feel really bad for you guys with the unseasonable snow. It's chilly here in northern Cal, but not raining, thank goodness. I hate driving in the rain.

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "Jo, given the huge emotional journey each of LK's books has been, I'm not surprised she needed some time away. But it's wonderful to have her back writing. I'm interviewing her on the Romance Dish on Thursday - really looking forward to that, if I can contain the awe-struck squeals!"

Huge squeals, Anna! Be sure to leave us a link and a reminder. I'd love reading about that interview. And like you, I'm so glad she's back writing.

Glad Oz is getting a little rain after all the hot days.

jo robertson said...

Anna said, "Oh, Jo, I've had the Judith Ivory kick too! She's magnificent."

You too, Anna?? I haven't read anything recent. Is that because she's not writing? Okay, another author to google.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Jo!
As a matter of fact, I'm SURE it was the poor quality of the English teacher. ;-) Everybody in class complained about Separate Peace.

And yes, the "F" word had a lot more impact on a 15 year old who NEVER heard her mother utter it and her father only once or twice. By the time I finished college, I wouldn't have even blinked.

who actually LIKES some Woody Allen films... mostly the NON-award winners

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, perhaps you have a different name for the card game in America? It's the one the little kids play where if you both put down the same card, you yell out snap and get to hold the pile in the middle. Do you play that in the US?

I'm not sure what happened to Judith Ivory. Avon issued a couple of books by her a few years ago but not a whisper since. I re-read The Proposition for a review at Romance Novel TV last year and was just bowled over by her yet again. She has such a fantastic voice.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, will definitely swing by and tout my Laura Kinsale interview! It's with our friends the Dishies!

MsHellion said...

I would be very upset if J.K. Rowling never wrote anything again--though I was very, very, very happy she at least finished the Harry Potter series.

I'm not sure what I'd do without Lisa Klepas...esp if she never wrote another contemporary. Her historicals I cut my teeth on, but her contemporaries are to die for.

Damn, it's hard to keep it to two!

Nancy said...

Limecello congrats on the rooster!

Jo, this is a fine salute to wonderful writers. And just btw, Erich Segal died last week.

I loved Spenser. While Joe Mantegna is a fine actor, Robert Urich will always be Spenser in my head, as Avery Brooks will always be Hawk.

There are lots of authors I'd mourn if they stopped writing, and many I'd mourn as people, too, because I've had the chance to meet them and they were wonderful.

I was sad that Robert Jordan died with the Wheel of Time unfinished, and Gordon R. Dickson with Hal Mayne stranded on the Final Encyclopedia (a library in space) awaiting the ultimate battle. I was sad to learn Dorothy L. Sayers was dead, even though she died decades before I discovered her books. And Georgette Heyer.

Manly Wade Wellman was a science fiction writer but also wrote YA historical fiction, and I loved, loved, LOVED his series about the American Revolution in the Carolinas. I was stunned to discover, too late, that he was still alive when I was re-reading library copies of those books in grade school.

And of course, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Sir Arthur C. Clarke were favorites. And Dame Dorothy Dunnett (hi, Anna C.!).

Even though I don't automatically read Dick Francis anymore, I'll be sad when he stops writing because I so loved his fundamentally decent everyman heroes.

I do automatically read Lois McMaster Bujold, especially if Miles Vorkosigan is involved (new Miles book coming THIS YEAR!), and I'd miss her work terribly.

There are lots of others, many of whom have turned up here, and I really can't pick from the Romance/Paranormal community.

Nancy said...

Jo, my problem with A Separate Peace was that it's sad.

My favorite ever book, To Kill A Mockingbird, is sad, too, but justice triumphs in the end. And the only reason Harper Lee wasn't on my lengthy list is that she only ever wrote the one book and has no plans to write another. But I'll be sad when she goes.

Nancy said...

Marilyn, I still have my old, battered copy of Love Story.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I have to say I'm not for ersatz author books either. The original voice and sensibility just don't translate. Another author can move the characters around the page, but the feel of the original is gone.

Louisa Cornell said...

Way to go, Lime! Look out for La Campbell! She can be a formidable opponent!

There are so many authors whose work I would miss terribly if they should ever decide to give up on writing. LA CAMPBELL for one !! And Madame Christine !! And Donna of the Fabulous Corset !! And Aunty Cindy !! Well, just put ALL of the Banditas on that list. So keep writing, ladies!! You keep my life fun, exciting, intriguing and full of lots of romance!

Glad to see Laura Kinsale back in the game. And Loretta Chase.

Mary Balogh !! Her characters and the emotional sweep of her stories. She can take a simple sweet story and twist your heart with it.

C.S. Harris - her series has so many twists and turns and such amazingly complicated characters I would definitely miss it if she quit.

And I hate to say it but I read Catcher in the Rye in high school and in college and I hated it both times!! I just didn't get it.

And Anna we must have been separated at birth because Woody Allen's movies make no sense to me whatsoever!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AWWWW! Thanx for including me and the other Banditas on you list, Louisa.

I hope to continue writing and SELLING my books for a good long time yet. But publishing is such a fickle business that you never know...


Ty said...

I have to admit, I haven't heard of Robert B. Parker, though I have heard of the T.V. series, "Spencer for Hire." As for J.D. Salinger, I have read "The Catcher in the Rye", which I did like, but maybe was too young to really appeciate when I read it. I also read a collection of short stories he wrote called "9 Stories," and the best thing I can say about J.D. Salinger is that he had a unique mastery of writing dialogue in the way in which people actually speak. That, I think, was his greatest talent. When the day comes that my favorite all-time author dies, John Steinbeck, I will definately be part of the throng of mournners.. I can also safely say this about Cormac McCarthy, though I suspect that he has many days and several more novels to grace our literary repertoire with..


jo robertson said...

Hi, Ty, first time visitor!

We had to google Steinbeck, who died in 1968, but Cormac McCarthy is 77. As you noted he writes like a young man, so maybe he has many more books yet to write.

Thanks for visiting!

jo robertson said...

Louisa said, "Mary Balogh !! Her characters and the emotional sweep of her stories. She can take a simple sweet story and twist your heart with it."

I totally agree. And Balogh's sexual tension is exquisite!

jo robertson said...

Nancy said, "The original voice and sensibility just don't translate."

I agree, Nancy. A writer's voice is what makes him or her unique. I think a person can imitate the voice but never quite duplicate it. Well, maybe if they're a clone or an identical twin LOL.

jo robertson said...

Nancy, I thought of Harper Lee too, but as you say, only one book. Was she the author that said she only had one book in her or had said all she wanted to say? Or was that someone else?

I think that it's interesting that Salinger said he wrote for himself, because it gave him such pleasure. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes out of his estate.

jo robertson said...

What a beautiful homage to so many writers, Nancy!

jo robertson said...

Anna, that game of Snap sounds like a version of War which kiddies play here.

AC, I KNEW it was the dirty words that got you LOL. I never, ever heard my mother swear, either, not even an occasional damn or hell.

Of course, my grandkids think shut up is a swear word!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Jo, lovely post and I so admire you for holding out against censorship! Coincidentally, my dh started reading TCITR only a week or two ago. I'm not letting him near my books:)

There are countless authors whose books I'd miss if they were gone. I'll except present company, as of course I'd be devastated to lose any of you or your writing!

CS Harris is a writer I'm currently addicted to because her books are so rich with detail about the Regency period--the seamier side as well as the aristocratic side. Also I never miss a Loretta Chase or a Liz Carlyle if I can help it. They each evoke what feels like an authentic flavour of the Regency era and they write with great intelligence, wit and emotion.

Great topic! Thanks for your post today.

jo robertson said...

MsHellion said, "I was very, very, very happy she at least finished the Harry Potter series."

Oh, yes, I think she's brilliant, especially at the world building. I can't wait to see what Rowling has up next.

I much prefer Kleypas' historicals to her contemporaries. At heart I think I'm an historical gal!

Mitzi H. said...

For me...If Diana Gabaldon did not finish her Outlander Series I think I Would Die!!!! And If you are reading this Diana....I will NOT rest in my grave!!! Hehehe.

Love following your blog.

jo robertson said...

Anna, I googled Judith Ivory (real name Judith Cuevas) and the Wikipedia article said back problems since the mid 2000's have left her unable to complete her latest, a Victorian set novel, which was to be the first in a series.

I think her career took off under Avon's tutelage.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Christine! Let me know what your husband thinks of Catcher!

I don't blame you for not letting him read your books. My husband abuses mine terribly. Of course, he isn't interested in reading the romances LOL. I tell him I only earmark the pages of books I know I won't keep.

My friend Kelly buys two copies of her favorite books, one for keeping and one for reading!

jo robertson said...

Christine, I'm embarrassed to admit I've never read any of the St. Sebastian Cyr books by CS Harris. They sound like I'd like them, though.

jo robertson said...

Go, Mitzi! I'd personally form a committee and track her to the grave if she didn't. But isn't the Outlander series nearly finished? Gabaldon is an amazing person as well as a great writer. I listened to an interview she once did about writing. She's driven, I tell you. And very, very productive. She generally has several things going at once. Amazing!

shannon said...


jo robertson said...

Hi, Shannon. Got the test, now post your comment :-D.

shannon said...

I personally really love Jodi Picoult ("My Sister's Keeper") but my favorite author of ALL TIME is Ed McBain. He has been writing since the 50s and he is timeless. I have to check the copyright date on a book to see when it was written and there is very little difference in his gritty style from a book in the 50s to a book in the 1990s. I have read ALL his books and there are dozens. So far he is the only writer that has died (he was well into his 70s I think) that I am truly mourning because it just stinks that he won't be writing anymore. They have published some of his short stories and stuff since he passed but they aren't the same. He writes under the name Evan Hunter too. His 87th Precinct novels are my favorites; gritty, engaging cop thriller/mysteries with characters you just fall in love with... or hate (because they are ALL very complicated, multidimentional. And he has/had an amazing talent for dialogue too. He always wrapped up the mystery with the interrogation of the "bad guy" which never got old. He also does this thing where he write phonetically to convey various accents and I LOVE that because if I read outloud I feel like I actually SOUND hispanic or irish or whatever. Does that make sense? Mom, you know what I am talking about right? Anyway, I LOVE Ed McBain and I miss him.

Nancy said...

Jo wrote of Harper Lee: Was she the author that said she only had one book in her or had said all she wanted to say?

Indeed she was. When Oprah asked her why she'd never written another book, that was Lee's response. And if you were only ever going to write one book and it turned out to be that one, well, I'd think that would be enough. The Pulitzer prize and still in print after something like half a century. And even more important, it touches so many people's hearts.

Nancy said...

Jo, I am also on about CS Harris. I haven't loved all of them equally, but I'm always eager for the next one. You MUST read these.

Just as Jeanne and Trish, if they do not SOON read the Vorkosigan books, are so very in for it! Now you're on my list, too. *g*

Nancy said...

Shannon, Ed McBain was truly amazing. Sustaining a series that long and that well is a real coup.

Nancy said...

Christine and Jo, years of reading comic books made me hyper about keeping books I care about in good condition so they don't fall apart. I can read a paperback and leave it so it doesn't show that it ever was read.

So the dh, not being similarly obsessed, doesn't read my books. Except hardbacks. Those don't require quite as much care.

And I forgot the late Tony Hillerman, whose Leaphorn and Chee mysteries were so wonderful.

jo robertson said...

Nancy, my friend Kelly is excellent about paperback books too. She worked in a bookstore before she became a teacher and learned to read them so they still looked new! And she's a founding member of RWA!!

I forgot Tony Hillerman too. I wasn't as taken with his books as much, although the cultural background is great.

Did I ever mention I had lunch with him once? Well, actually I was at an CATE Conference (CA Teachers of English) and he was the keynote speaker as Asilomar. At this gorgeous conference place by the Pacific, they eat family-style and I ended up at his table with about 10 other teachers. Boy, were we honored!

jo robertson said...

Nancy, I was really sad when Ed McBain died. I've read every one of his 87th precinct novels (got Shannon turned on to them, I believe) and his police procedure is unbeatable. Plus, I adored Blackboard Jungle. Do you remember that?

jo robertson said...

Tell me more about the Vorkosigan books, Nancy. Is that sci-fi?

I've been trolling through the sci-fi book sections trying to decide which one to start with. I'm so picky 'cause I don't like too much techo-babble or complicated futuristic. I DO, however, like the Orson Scott Card Ender series.

Which CS Harris book should I start with? Does it matter?

jo robertson said...

Thanks for confirming that quote, Nancy. If I were to pick an American novel as the best EVER I'd definitely pick To Kill a Mockingbird.

I taught it to sophomores, but I always wanted to teach it at the senior level. Sophomores are so, well, sophomoric most of the time.

jo robertson said...

Beautifully written tribute to Ed McBain and his works, Shannon, and yes, I know exactly what you're saying.

What I enjoyed also was his fictional setting -- isn't that "city" supposed to be New York? It was quite complex world-building that's held up very well over the years.

jo robertson said...

Here's what Wikipedia says about McBain's 87th Precinct series: "The series is based on the work of the police detectives of the 87th Precinct in Isola, a district of a large fictional city based on the New York City borough of Manhattan. Other districts in McBain's fictionalized version of New York correspond to NYC's other four boroughs, Calm's Point standing in for Brooklyn, Majesta representing Queens, Riverhead substituting for the Bronx, and Bethtown for Staten Island."

jo robertson said...

Thanks, everyone, for playing with us today. I got lots of good ideas for authors to read and have flagged them for my next purchases.

Oy, don't need anymore books, but nothing's more beautiful than a new book, right?

Nancy said...

Jo, you ate lunch w/Tony Hillerman? Way cool!

As for C.S. Harris, I'd start with the first one--What Angels Fear. They really should be read in order.

The Vorkosigan books are not big on technobabble. Miles Vorkosigan's parents had two books before Miles came along and took over.

(These would be Shards of Honor and Barrayar, currently in print only in a combined mmpb edition, Cordelia's Honor--from Baen, I think. The first has a strong romance element thought it primarily is SF, and the second is about their building a marriage when they come from clashing cultures and are surrounded by political intrigue)

They live on Barrayar, a planet much like 19th century Germany in its social structure and militarism and somewhat reminiscent of Russia. Miles's father, Count Aral Vorkosigan, is one of the planet's great military heroes. He met Miles's mother, Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan (all aristocratic names start with Vor-) when they were both marooned on a distant world. Despite being on opposite sides in the war going on, they fell in love.

Fast forward a bit, and Aral is the planetary regent. Cordelia is pregnant with Miles--and they're gassed in an assassination attempt. As a result, Miles is born with a stunted frame, brittle bones, a twisted spine, and a too-large head. He has a lightning-fast brain but isn't exactly equipped to follow in his father's footsteps, as the tradition of his culture requires.

To make matters worse for Miles, their world went through a nuclear war two generations back that left much of the population suspicious of "muties," babies born with mutations after the war.

We meet Miles as an adult in his own book, The Warrior's Apprentice (currently available only in the combined edition called Young Miles and containing WA, the heart-wrenching novella The Mountains of Mourning, and the second Miles novel, The Vor Game), as he attempts to pass the physical test to enter the Imperial Military Academy. He isn't allowed to wear the braces that stabilize his legs, so when he goes over the obstacle course wall, he lands and breaks both legs--not for the first time. He has washed out. The first two Miles books and the novella are about his struggle to make a life for himself.

He is, to me, the ultimate example of making things really, really hard for a character and then telling him, "now do something with that."

Sometimes I want to smack Miles upside the head, and sometimes I cheer for him, but I always, always keep reading.

And the Vorkosigans have won the Hugo and the Negula FWIW. The author is Lois McMaster Bujold, and I got to meet her at DragonCon, which was a huge thrill.

After Michael Biehn said hi to me. *g*

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, I definitely second Nancy's comment about reading the C.S. Harrises in order. She really times the revelations!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Louisa, how nice of you to say that!

I see there are a few C.S. Harris fans here. Cool bananas!

jo robertson said...

Michael Biehn saying hi is frosting on the cake, right, Nancy?

Thanks for the rundown and the author for the Vorkosigan books. Although sci-fi isn't my thing, I thought I'd broaded my horizons and try it. Thanks for the recommendation!

Robb L. Robertson said...

While I appreciate the sentiments regarding the passing of contemporary writers, I cringed a little at your list of favs. I understand you probably leaned towards the genre in which you write, but...
Where is Updike? or David Gutterson? I suppose I'm being a bit petty; especially since I see there are 100 other comments, which I have NOT read yet. And anyway, I am a poor judege of contemporary fiction: most of the authors I read (lately) have been dead over a hundred years. Mostly a function of US copyright laws, my poor financial situation and free iPhone downloads for books in the "public domain".

Lance said...

I do mourn Parker’s death. You’re right, he received the torch from Phillip Marlowe/Sam Spade, and his Spenser character was without a doubt their more modern equivalent. I think there was something official too (of the torch pass), where he completed one of one of their books. I’ve read almost all of Parker’s books. I did not know he died until I saw your blog, same as the kid who learned there wasn’t a Santa Claus when his grammar school teacher asked him to write a story about how he learned the truth.

Now that I know I will get no more Spenser, I must be sure to finish the hardboiled mystery of a Chandler (or Hammett? I’ll have to google which one it was) that Robert B. Parker completed.

So besides Parker, who else would I mourn if he never wrote a new piece? Well, there’s Lawrence Block, whose Bernie Rhodenbarr books I’ve read every one of. In fact, The Burglar in the Rye was my first introduction to Salinger, since I was the dumbest kid in my AP English class (and as far as Catcher, I didn’t even read the Cliff Notes). But after reading Block’s version of The Burglar in the Rye and his reference to Salinger and how it changed “every teenager’s life”, I promised myself I’d check it out.

I’ve read every Grisham, Robert Crais, Lee Child (and his tough-guy vagrant retired MP, Jack Reacher), and just about all of Elmore Leonard. And when one of these writers churns out a new one, I’m always quick to pick it up. Oh, and I think Jeffrey Deaver’s Garden of Beasts was one of the best novels ever, so because of that I read everything else he wrote. And I agree about losing good authors, since it’s been a while since I’ve actually added a new one to my love-list. But would I actually mourn (or notice) if any of them stopped writing? Hmm. I’m not sure.

Except, of course, for my all-time favorite of all: Jo Robertson. :)