Monday, August 3, 2015

RIP James Salter, E. L. Doctorow, and Alan Cheuse

We have lost three important American writers in the past two months, and I want to note and mourn their passing. James Salter, novelist and short-story writer, died June 19th at the age of 90. He was the sort of "writer’s writer" who was respected but not vastly successful commercially; however, his last novel, “All That Is,” published when he was 87, received the most critical and popular attention of his works. (I posted on that novel here on 5/27/13.) E. L. Doctorow, the most famous of these three writers, was a novelist and essayist who died July 21st at age 84. His most famous novel was “Ragtime.” And Alan Cheuse, novelist, creative writing teacher (at the famous Squaw Valley Community of Writers, as well as at George Mason and other universities), and book reviewer, died just a few days ago, on July 31st, at the age of 75. Cheuse was perhaps best known as a longtime literary commentator/book reviewer on NPR. RIP, James Salter, E.L. Doctorow, and Alan Cheuse. Thank you for all your contributions to the world of literature; they are your legacy and will live long after you. Even many years from now, when perhaps you are not very often read or talked of (most literary reputations have time limits, alas), once in a while someone will browse in a library or bookstore (or online catalog) and serendipitously find and read and appreciate one of your books, and then look for more of them. Or a critic will “rediscover” your work, publish an article about it, and give new life to your books. And each time this happens, it will be a small but significant victory for literature.
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