Friday, December 31, 2010
J.D. Salinger changed my life, as he did for many, especially those of us who were coming of age when he was still publishing. George Leonard, (top left) when he was writing for LOOK magazine, was also an influence on my developing outlook in the early 60s. When I wrote about reading an Alan Sillitoe novel in August, I hadn't realized that he'd died in April. (That's him in the 50s, bottom extreme right.--click collage to enlarge)
I had a slight personal connection to two of these authors. I met Vance Bourjaily (photo top center) at a writers conference somewhere, and one inebriated night I played piano while he played trombone (I believe.) I reviewed a collection of George Hitchcock's work for the San Francisco Chronicle, which allowed me to allude to getting a handwritten note of encouragement from him on some of my poems rejected for Kayak, his celebrated magazine. His publisher subsequently sent me a note to say how pleased George (pictured in beret)--a lifelong San Francisco resident-- was with the review.
Other authors who died this year include Tony Judt (pictured), Beryl Bainbridge (pictured), poet Andrei Vozensky (pictured with Robert Kennedy), poet Peter Orlovsky (pictured with Allen Ginsberg, his lifelong companion to whom he was an important muse), Howard Zinn (pictured), Ted Sorenson, Belva Plain, Frank Kermode, Louis Auchincloss, Dick Francis, Barry Hannah, Arthur Herzog, Jose Saramago and David Markson. May they rest in peace, and their books be forever read.