John Updike passes on at 76

Jan 29, 2009 by

One of the more visible American literary novelist, John Updike, died at the age of 76 on Wednesday.  Writer of works such as The Witches of Eastwick, Marry Me and of course, the Rabbit sequence of novels, Updike is no stranger to acclaim, having been lavished with numerous literary prizes, including the Pulitzer.

An interesting tidbit about him is he didn’t seem all that fond of the digital revolution for books – and has reportedly described the oncoming digital future as ‘grisly’.  Gem has found yet another kindred spirit.

Check out the news here.

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J.D. Salinger is more elusive than Thomas Pynchon?

Jan 2, 2009 by

As J. D. Salinger celebrates his birthday today, NYTimes has an article up on his apparent reclusiveness.

Of course, I know of only one other author who is so obsessive about not being in the public eye, and that’s the famously elusive Thomas Pynchon.

Salinger is of course most noted for A Catcher in the Rye.

So, Mr Salinger, Happy Birthday, and, uhm, let’s take a picture sometime!

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Inaugural Poet – Elizabeth Alexander

Jan 1, 2009 by

American President-elect Barack Obama has picked Elizabeth Alexander, an award-winning and Pulitzer Prize Finalist poet, to read a poem at his inauguration on the 20 January 2009.  The poem shall be written specifically by Alexander for the event.

This is only the fourth time in America’s history that a president has invited a poet at the inauguration.  The others were Robert Frost for JFK, and Maya Angelou  and Miller Williams for Bill Clinton.

Alexander says in her website,

Poetry is not meant to cheer; rather, poetry challenges, and moves us towards transformation. Language distilled and artfully arranged shifts our experience of the words – and the worldviews – we live in.

Apparently she is a friend of Obama’s, but when asked if that played a part on her being picked, she had this to say:

“One of the things we’ve seen with every choice he’s made is that it’s based on what he perceives as excellence,” Ms. Alexander said. “I don’t think you would let friendship determine who you chose to do something like this. You can do lots of things to be nice to your friends — you can invite them to an inaugural ball. But I don’t think friends have to do each other this kind of favor.”

Read more about her in the WSJ and NYTimes.

Thanks to About.com.

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