Mexican Author and Twice Hammett Prize Winner Juan Hernandez Luna Dies

I don’t read much crime fiction so I’ll probably not read Juan Hernandez Luna’s work but it sounds like he was a good writer. The Latin American Herald Tribune has the full obit.

Hernandez Luna, born in Mexico City on Aug. 19, 1962, was an “outstanding author of the noir genre,” the INBA communique said, noting that his books have been translated into French and Italian.

He won a number of awards, including the National Book of Short Stories prize in 1988, the Latin American Short Story prize in 1992, the National Science Fiction prize in 1995, and the Dashiell Hammett prize in 1997 and 2007 for the detective novels “Tabaco para el Puma” (Tobacco for the Puma) and “Cadaver de Ciudad” (City Corpse).

His published works include the biographies “Se Llamaba Emiliano” (He Was Called Emiliano) on the life of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata – written under the pen name Ivan Degollado – and “No Hay Virtud en el Servilismo” (There’s No Virtue in Servility) about the ideologue Ricardo Flores Magon.

Among his best-known novels are “Unico Territorio” (The Only Territory), “Naufragio” (Shipwreck), “Quizas Otros Labios” (Perhaps Other Lips), “Tijuana Dream”, “Yodo” (Iodine) and “Las Mentiras de la Luz” (Lies of the Light).

Spanish Author Miguel Delibes Has Died

The Spanish author Miguel Delibes has died at age 89 at his home in Valladolid. El Pais has an obiturary here and commemoration his life here. He had won the Cervantes prize among many others and was considered one of Spains greatest writers of the 20th century. Several of his books have been translated into English.

Tomás Eloy Martínez – RIP

Tomás Eloy Martínez the author of Santa Evita and the Novel of Peron has died. The New York Times has an obituary. I’ve been meaning to read the Novel of Peron one day, since I own it.

Interweaving factual reporting and magic realism with meditations on myth, history and the quicksilver nature of truth, Mr. Martínez’s two most famous novels explore the lives of Argentina’s two best-known and most enigmatic figures. The first, “The Perón Novel” (Pantheon, 1988; translated by Asa Zatz), originally appeared in Argentina in 1985 as “La Novela de Perón.” It centers on Gen. Juan Domingo Perón, the Argentine dictator who held the presidency from 1946 until he was deposed in 1955, and again from 1973 until his death in 1974.

The second, “Santa Evita” (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996; translated by Helen Lane), was published in Argentina in 1995. It explores the life — or, more accurately, the afterlife — of Perón’s second wife, Eva. Both were best sellers in Argentina and have been translated into dozens of languages.

J D Salinger – RIP

I’m not breaking news with this bit: J.D. Salinger passed away today. What I want to mention was my few memories of his work. I have never been a big fan of his. Perhaps it is because I came to Catcher in the Rye relatively late in life: 25. I had already formed my notions of good writing and Catcher in the Rye wasn’t among them. Perhaps, too, I didn’t feel like I had to be fighting against something, the phonies. But his characterization of the everyone as a phony, while perfect for a teenager, felt silly, as if one was always powerless and the best one could do is call names.

I may reread it one day, but until then it will remain that work of youth I found too late.

Amos Kenan, Israeli Writer Has Passed Away

I don’t know much about Amos Kenan, just what the NY Times obit says, and I have a feeling I won’t read him because I don’t have the time, but the obituary is worth the read just to get the sense of the broadness of writing in Israel. The only book that seems to be readily available in English at Amazon is The Road To Ein Harod. The times give it this brief mention:

His most successful novel was “The Road to Ein Harod,” an Orwellian mixture of history, fantasy and philosophy in which an Israeli and an Arab are thrown together after a military coup sends Israel hurtling toward fascism.

Wikipedia has a little more about Kenan.

Vasily Aksyonov – RIP

The Russian author Vasily Aksyonov passed away on Monday the July 6th. I have yet to get around to reading Generations of Winter even though I’ve had it for sometime. He was one of those finds along with Platonov that I was quite happy to find when I decided to make it my mission to give my dad as many different books by Russian authors as I could. One day I’ll get around to the book, despite its size.

From the NY Times obit:

For all the torment of his background, Mr. Aksyonov, as a prose stylist, was at the opposite pole from Mr. Solzhenitsyn, becoming a symbol of youthful promise and embracing fashion and jazz rather than dwelling on the miseries of the gulag. Ultimately, however, he shared Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s fate of exile from the Soviet Union.

“Solzhenitsyn is all about the imprisonment and trying to get out, and Aksyonov is the young person whose mother got out and he actually can live his life now,” said Nina L. Khrushcheva, who is a great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev and a friend of the Aksyonov family and who teaches international affairs at the New School in New York. “It was important to have the Aksyonov light, that light of personal freedom and personal self-expression.”

Karl Malden – RIP

I don’t normally post about actors, but Karl Malden (NYT obit) always seemed to be real, normal, all those adjectives that seem unactor-like. Perhaps because it was the Streets of San Francisco (A Quinn Martin Production) was my first experience with his work. I was only 13 or 14 when I saw the shows in rerun a few years after the show had ended. Malden’s character always seems reasoned and impassioned, but not the kind of over the top stress ball that is in vogue these days. He seemed fatherly for a time when the sitcom father had long since passed into unreality.

His role in Patton, too, is remarkable. Again he makes the General Bradley seem the every man, which was his reputation. More importantly, though, it has always made me think, it isn’t the prima donas that run the world, but the every man who can control them. Of course, this isn’t quite true, but the way he plays the role makes it seem that way.

Mario Benedetti Has Passed Away

Uruguayan author Mario Benedetti has passed away at age 88. As El Pais said

Muere Mario Benedetti después de una larga vida de lucha contra la adversidad y en defensa de la alegría

Mario Benedetti died after a long life fighting against adversity and defending joy

Jose Sarmago has a short reflection in El Pais.

The work of Mario Benedetti, friend, brother, is surprising in all aspects, in the expansiveness of the varied genres he touched, in the density of his poetic expression as much for the extreme conceptual liberty that he uses. The language of Benedetti has deliberately ignored the supposed existence of poetic words and the others that are not. For Benedetti, language, above all, is poetic. Read from this perspective, the work of the great Uruguayan poet presents us not only as the sum of a vital experience, but over all, as the persistent search for and the reaching a feeling, that of a human being on the planet, in a country, in a city or in a village, or simply in his house or in a collective action. There are many reasons that bring us to read Benedetti. Perhaps the best is this: the poet has become the voice of his own village. Or better, a universal poet.

La obra de Mario Benedetti, amigo, hermano, es sorprendente en todos los aspectos, ya sea por la extensión en la variedad de géneros que toca, ya sea por la densidad de su expresión poética como por la extrema libertad conceptual que usa. El léxico de Benedetti ha ignorado deliberadamente la supuesta existencia de palabras “poéticas” y de otras que no lo son. Para Benedetti, la lengua, toda ella, es poética. Leída desde esta perspectiva, la obra del gran poeta uruguayo se nos presenta, no sólo como suma de una experiencia vital, sino, sobre todo, como la búsqueda persistente y lograda de un sentido, el del ser humano en el planeta, en el país, en la ciudad o en la aldea, en su casa simplemente o en la acción colectiva. Son muchas las razones que nos llevan a la lectura de Benedetti. Tal vez la principal sea ésa, precisamente: que el poeta se ha convertido en voz de su propio pueblo. O sea, en poeta universal.

If you read Spanish you can read about him at Clarin also.

When a Blogger Dies, What to Do with the Blog?

When a blogger dies what should you do with the blog, and more importantly do you owe the readers of the blog something, such as a time or a place to grieve like you would with friends and family?

A friend, elswinger, and avid blogger died a month ago after a series of long illnesses. It was sudden and surprising, but not unexpected. Since he had no family many things fell to me, such as notifying friends he had passed, planing the memorial, and cleaning up his apartment. He had discussed all his last wishes with me over the years and had committed some to paper.

When he died, though, one of my first thoughts was what about the blog? He had told me he had readers and had made a few friends through his blog. Would they like to know? Moreover, in his blog he explained in graphic detail all the medical problems that had affected him over the years. It seemed that his readers or anyone who stumbled on the blog in the future might want to know what happened with his illnesses.

Ultimately, I felt there was a duty to let his readers know. Although they could be anywhere in the world, if they were interested enough to read they would like to know what had happened. It also seemed liked an unspoken last request, the coda to a hard life that would have a weight, though fleeting, more important than a headstone, which he was not going to have.

As soon as I published the death notice I received several queries from readers and from The Stranger, where he had been an avid commentator. From the outpouring of responses it was obvious that the readers did want some sort of closure. His blog was well written, but also had a narrative sense (as every life does) that would have left readers wondering what happened.

I don’t know who will be reading the blog five years from now, but it is obvious that a blog that is about an individual needs to be closed when a writer dies. In the same way that friends and family want a memorial, readers need a virtual memorial, or, at least, a way to close their reading.

For the survivors and heirs of a blogger, you do have an obligation to say something, even if it is Rest In Peace. And if your blog means that much to you, you should tell someone what you want to have happen in case of the unthinkable. Your readers will appreciate it.

Studs Terkel Has Passed Away

Studs Terkel has passed away. The NY Times has an obituary. I always liked the work of Terkel since I first ran across him in college. I thought the Good War was the best of what I’d read. His interview with EB Sledge was impresive. Hard Times, since it was written at the end of the 60’s, has a perhaps unfortunate way of being a comment on the 60’s themselves. I suppose no oral history can not be a reflection of the times it is given in.