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That could almost be the name of a book or a TV series, it’s got a really good ring to it but unfortunately I’m talking about the death of two famous people.
Tom Sharpe was a British satirical novelist who managed to be deported from South Africa in 1961 for writing anti-apartheid plays. He was white, one of his characters was an older lady, white who complained the screams of the tortured prisoners stopped her having her afternoon nap; somehow I don’t think that’d work if the colours of the people were the other way round. Sharpe died at the good age of 85.
Esther Williams was the swimming star of MGM. She started off her career in swimming and was preparing to win gold at the 1940 Olympics when it was cancelled due to the war, Williams was signed on my MGM instead and had a fabulous career in the swimming pool they built specifically for her and her talents. She took the world by storm with synchronised swimming. They knew she was a star when they screened her opposite Mickey Rooney as his love interested and the public loved her so they gave her movie after movie. I love all those old movies and remember her with immense fondness. Williams died at the age of 91, a good innings.
Jack Vance was one of the forerunners of modern science fiction, helping Michael Moorcock define the characteristic ambience of Science Fantasy and influencing many of the best writers in the science fiction/fantasy fields. Writers such as Jack L Chalker, Avram Davidson and Ursula K Le Guin, Michael Moorcock, George R. R. Martin and Gene Wolfe among many others.
Vance died four days ago on the 26th May 2013 but we’re only hearing about it now and I suspect that’s due to his intense privacy. Instead of attending conventions, talking a lot and answering lots of questions he’d get up on stage announce he would answer one question, this question was if he ever used personal experience in his books, he replied “I am not an egotist” and then started playing his ukelele.
He was well known for writing novellas and short stories, best remembered for his Dying Earth series and Lyonesse stories. You can see a larger list of his books here.
Vale, Jack Vance, you’ve been wonderful.
Everyone dies, a fact we seem to forget from time to time and for some that time is far too soon but others have lead a good life or given a lot to the world and have made it to a good age. This week has seen the passing of some extraordinary people.
Jerry Nelson was the person behind Count von Count and other Sesame Street characters since the early 19702. He has given so much pleasure to so many children and their parents and grandparents. I can only thank him for all the time he spent improving my children’s counting and helping me out as a parent, he was wonderful.
Nina Bawden is best known as the author of Carrie’s war but has also written many other books, she changed the way we read war books making it possible for people to deal with what happened during WWII and move on.
The last person I know of needs no introduction as he is the man who lived out so many fantasies by so many people over the centuries and actually stood on the moon. Neil Armstrong was a leader in so many ways and from what I’ve heard about him we could all learn a lesson or two from him. Courage, perserverance and a lovely attitude towards people.
Vale and thank you for making the world a better place.
No Mondayitis today, just a short vale to a great author.
Margaret Mahy was a much loved New Zealand author, she died yesterday in Christchurch after a short illness at the age of 76. While I don’t recall reading any of her books I have had them in my hands and know her name quite well. They have a sculpture of her in the Twelve Local Heroes outside the Arts Centre in Christchurch. We were there last year during our visit to NZ and had I known one of them was her I would have tried harder to take a photo. The building and grounds were roped off due to damage from the earthquake, thank goodness the scupltures were all in good condition.
Vale: Margaret Mahy, you will be much missed.
It is with much regret the people in this household heard the news about Ray Bradbury’s passing this morning. It is not the best news to wake up to. 91 was a good innings, though, we don’t all get to be 91 years old.
Ray Bradbury pierced the hearts and minds of so many generations of people with Fahrenheit 451. It’s a book that really hurts as it reminds us of the burning of books during the Holocaust and it hurts to hear of a book being burned for any reason. To have the loss of so much work, wisdom and wit lost so quickly just hurts. I loved the writing and the imagery in this book when I read it many years ago but the only image I can bring to mind is the burning books.
Another of Bradbury’s works that has captured my imagination is The Illustrated Man. About a man who has so many tattoos and each one has a story. Tattoos seems to evoke many emotions both good and bad. I can recall the time I was on jury duty and the man we found guilty had tattoos from wrist to shoulder, they looked like shirt sleeves and reminded me of The Illustrated Man, I was nervous.
It’s interesting where authors will find to write their books. Bradbury hired a typewriter at his local library at 10c per half hour, it cost him $9.80 to write Fahrenheit 451, I figured it took him 49 hours. J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books in a cafe. James Herriot wrote his comical vet books, All Creatures Great and Small, on a portable typewriter in the loungeroom of his house with his family around him watching TV or doing their homework or just talking. The writers are all different and wrote in different ways but the thing bringing them together is that they wrote.
Vale Mr Bradbury, thank you so much for showing me a different world, for educating me and entertaining me, but above all, for writing.
Jean Craighead George was a wonderful author, she wrote about 100 novels and died on the 15th May 2012 at the age of 92. To my great shame I’ve only read one of her books but it’s on my list of books I recommend to all ages. My Side of the Mountain is about a boy who goes camping on the old family property successfully living off the land for quite some time. It’s just lovely. Squid Ink thinks so too.
Poor Squid Ink, he’s in mourning for a wonderfully talented author and artist. Maurice Sendak died on the 8th May 2012, not that long ago but it’s taken time for Squid Ink to feel able to let me publish this little tribute to him.
Maurice Sendak was the author and illustrator of books for children. His most famous work, Where the Wild Things Are, has given generations of children much pleasure and will continue to do so for some time. I know I’m in the minority in not liking the book, it scares me and I’ve said this before but I do acknowledge it is a book many children love and includes some valuable ideas for children. Another of his books, In the Night Kitchen has landed itself in position 21 of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999, it has a boy prancing naked through the book and many librarians have drawn a nappy on him before putting the book on the shelf.
Sendak will be much missed by many, his illustrations show character and enthusiasm as well as teaching people things don’t always have to be sweetness and light. Vale.
Squid Ink, happily in water on a rare occasion, is reading and along comes one of The Berenstain Bears. It’s handy having extra tentacles so you can hold the book out of the bath.
It is with much regret that I discovered the passing of Jan Berenstain today. Paired with her husband, Stan who died in 2005, Jan produced some marvellous stories about the Berenstain Bears which have entertained many generations of children.
I’m sad to say I don’t recall these books from my childhood but then that’s a long time ago. On the other hand, my kids loved their books and I enjoyed them thoroughly with them. They’re good, wholesome writing with really lovely illustrations.
I mentioned this over dinner last night and the kids waxed nostalgic. They talked about the books they’d bought from the Scholastic Book Fairs and the cute, little toys that came with some of the books. They even asked where the books were as they’d like to reread them. Bear in mind these books are aimed at early primary school and my kids are grown up, I think it’s fair to say the Berenstains made a very large impact on them.