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Posts Tagged ‘In Memoriam’

He Was My Closest Friend

March 11, 2014 | by

The second of five vignettes.

Shel-1

Photo: Larry Moyer

He lived alone in various houses, and moved from one to the next in response to no discernible stimulus. I assumed that, at some point, he felt it was just “time to move.”

He had lost his first wife, and their young daughter to cancer. And he told me that the terrible thing was not that they were dead, but that they stayed dead. I thought of it often, and think of it oftener since his death.

I’d had a cold and was sleeping in the little guest cubby in the eaves of the attic, and I woke up with an intolerable pain in my chest.

I knew I was dying, and thought, Well, this is a heart attack. It subsided, and I went back to sleep, only to be struck, again, some time later. The next morning a mutual friend called to tell me that Shel had died the night before of a heart attack—in fact, of two heart attacks, some minutes apart.

My wife sent me to have my heart checked out, and its only defect was that it was broken. Read More »

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Ghostwriting Tom Clancy

October 3, 2013 | by

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“I had to be more disciplined than ever about my work schedule; after the first book was turned in, I would have approximately ten months to plot, research, and write each novel. The deadline left no wiggle room—my publisher had pre-sold the books to retailers as holiday releases. Nor was there room for error when it came to the factual details of technology, ballistics, and geography. When I wrote Bio-Strike, for instance, I consulted with polymer engineers and geneticists to design a newfangled biological weapon that that would be scientifically feasible. And then there was the more routine stuff of which action thrillers are made. How does a human body react when hit with a bullet of a particular caliber, at a given distance, striking at a particular angle? I had to find out—call a cop, a forensic pathologist, or a trauma room doctor. Winging it wasn’t an option.”

Read more from Jerome Preisler, who cowrote eight novels with Tom Clancy, here.

 

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Singing the Blues

April 8, 2013 | by

Documentary filmmaker Les Blank has died, at age seventy-seven. In memoriam, a clip from one of his many films devoted to traditional American music, The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins.

 

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Chinua Achebe, 1930–2013

March 22, 2013 | by

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“We live in a society that is in transition from oral to written. There are oral stories that are still there, not exactly in their full magnificence, but still strong in their differentness from written stories. Each mode has its ways and methods and rules. They can reinforce each other; this is the advantage my generation has—we can bring to the written story something of that energy of the story told by word of mouth. This is really one of the contributions our literature has made to contemporary literature.” —Chinua Achebe, the Art of Fiction No. 139

 

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Richard G. Stern, 1928–2013

January 28, 2013 | by

We mourn the loss of Richard Stern, a lion of the literary world whose name was little known outside the den. He established himself as a nurturing teacher and a powerful force in literature at the University of Chicago, where, while writing, he taught English and creative writing from 1955 until his retirement in 2001. In Stern’s New York Times obituary, Philip Roth recalls meeting Saul Bellow, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Norman Mailer in Stern’s U of C classroom. During his tenure at the school, Stern was awarded the Medal of Merit for the Novel by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 1986.

He published fiction, short stories, and essays prolifically, appearing in The Paris Review four times, across a span of almost thirty years. The second of these occurrences, from Issue 66 (Summer 1976), was the story “Aurelia Frequenzia Reveals the Heart and Mind of the Man of Destiny,” a brief and disorienting vignette about the interview of a mysterious Vietnamese ex-politician by a French journalist. Marked by a strong current of anxiety and paranoia, tension builds and builds until an abrupt and surprising resolution. It is representative of the work he shared with us.

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The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge

January 11, 2013 | by

Our great contributor Evan Connell died this week. His best-loved novel, Mrs. Bridge, began as a short story in the Fall 1955 issue of The Paris Review. See below for the full text.

PARKING

The black Lincoln that Mr. Bridge gave her on her forty-seventh birthday was a size too long and she drove it as cautiously as she might have driven a locomotive. People were always blowing their horns at her or turning their heads to stare when they went by. The Lincoln was set to idle too slowly and in consequence the engine sometimes died when she pulled up at an intersection, but as her husband never used the Lincoln and she herself assumed it was just one of those things about automobiles, the idling speed was never adjusted. Often she would delay a line of cars while she pressed the starter button either too long or not long enough. Knowing she was not expert she was always quite apologetic when something unfortunate happened, and did her best to keep out of everyone’s way. She changed into second gear at the beginning of any hill and let herself down the far side much more slowly than necessary.

Usually she parked in a downtown garage where Mr. Bridge rented a stall for her. She had only to honk at the enormous doors, which would then trundle open, and coast on inside where an attendant would greet her by name, help her out, and then park the formidable machine. But in the country club district she parked on the street, and if there were diagonal stripes she did very well, but if parking was parallel she had trouble judging her distance from the curb and would have to get out and walk around to look, then get back in and try again. The Lincoln’s seat was so soft and Mrs. Bridge so short that she had to sit very erect in order to see what was happening ahead of her. She drove with arms thrust forward and gloved hands tightly on the large wheel, her feet just able to depress the pedals all the way. She never had serious accidents but was often seen here and there being talked to by patrolmen. These patrolmen never did anything partly because they saw immediately that it would not do to arrest her, and partly because they could tell she was trying to do everything the way it should be done. When parking on the street it embarrassed her to have people watch, yet there always seemed to be someone at the bus stop or lounging in a doorway with nothing to do but stare while she struggled with the wheel and started jerkily backward. Sometimes, however, there would be a nice man who, seeing her difficulty, would come around and tip his hat and ask if he might help.Read More »

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