Thursday, November 6, 2008

Author Passings

Two more authors of note, popular exemplars of opposite political views, passed away in the last week.

Oral history - radio and television interviewer Louis "Studs" Terkel died on Friday, October 31, 2008. He is most well known for Working: people talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do. Early works included Hard Times: an oral history of the Great Depression, and Division Street, America, as well as The Great Divide: second thoughts on the American dream. Later he compiled Coming of Age: the story of our century and the people who lived it, and a compilation of his best interviews in My American Century, which show his strong interest in the social issues that plagued and divided people. He told librarians and their friends, "The average American has an indigenous intelligence, a native wit. It's only a question of piquing that intelligence." Because of involvement in WPA theatre programs in the 1930s he was among authors and performers who were blacklisted for supposed Anti-American views during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s. He was 96.

Blockbuster suspense novelist and screenwriter Michael Crichton died on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 here in Los Angeles. He wrote to raise a little money for medical school and even before he became a doctor his books became huge hits because he knew how to maintain interest and supense. Appropriately, most of his "techno-thrillers" involve biololgical or scientific fears, but later ones exploited poltical, particularly conservative, fears and beliefs such as global warming. His early books include The Andromeda Strain, Terminal Man, Jurassic Park and many of his novels became movies, and in some cases, theme park rides. He directed as well, and wrote screenplays for movies, for example Westworld. He was only 66. (Picture from Gale Biography Resource Center.)

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