Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Louise Erdrich wins Literary Peace Prize

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

From a press release:

louiseerdrichLouise Erdrich, a brilliant chronicler of contemporary Native-American life, will receive the 2014 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, organizers of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize announced.

Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international literary peace prize awarded in the United States. The Prize celebrates the power of literature to promote peaceand global understanding. The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is named in honor of the celebrated U.S. diplomat, who played an instrumental role in negotiating the Accords. The award, which recognizes authors for their complete body of work, will be presented to Erdrich at a gala ceremony in Dayton on November 9, 2014. 2013 winner Wendell Berry will present the award to Erdrich.

Erdrich was raised by her Ojibwe-French mother and German-American father in North Dakota. Her debut novel, Love Medicine, won the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award and became the first in a series set on a fictional Ojibwe reservation over a period of 60 years. Hailed for its lyrical prose and rich realism, her work often reflects both sides of her heritage without judgment or sentimentality, instead offering deeply honest portraits of complex individuals whose intertwining narratives have invoked comparisons to William Faulkner. Among her most recent novels, 2012’s The Round House won the National Book Award for its frank exploration of sexual violence on Native American reservations, while 2008’s The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Over the course of her three-decade career, Erdrich has written fourteen novels, as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. She currently lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.

“As we watch people in other countries clash over culture, religion, and ancient territorial claims, Louise Erdrich’s work reminds us that the United States, too, shares a similar history of violence, discrimination, and neglect,” said Sharon Rab, founder and co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “Yet despite the war of competing cultures that arises between her characters, Ms. Erdrich leaves us with a greater appreciation for the universal comedies and tragedies that bind all humanity and inspire empathy even among enemies.”

Erdrich will join the ranks of past winners of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, formerly called the Lifetime Achievement Award, including Studs Terkel (2006), Elie Wiesel (2007), Taylor Branch (2008), Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009), Geraldine Brooks (2010), Barbara Kingsolver (2011), Tim O’Brien (2012), and Wendell Berry (2013).

RIP Robin Williams

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters and Pam Dawber in "Mork and Mindy."

Last night we got the word that the wonderful Robin Williams was dead, possibly at his own hand. So often the funniest people live the saddest lives. Depression is an uninvited guest who refuses to leave.

I choose to remember him when he was a young genius, a miniature Jonathan Winters who was even paired with his mentor on “Mork and Mindy.” Together, they were magic.

Here’s a nice obit from Truthdig.

Dalai Lama wisdom

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.”

— His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet in “Questions for the Dalai Lama: Answers on Love, Success, Happiness & the Meaning of Life”

Maya Angelou

Thursday, May 29th, 2014


Remembering Maya Angelou, who died May 28 at the age of 86.

In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom.

Obama Medal of Freedom

Hidden History

Friday, May 16th, 2014


Here’s a link to the latest “One for the Books” column on Hidden History.

RIP Gabriel García Márquez

Thursday, April 17th, 2014


Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez has died.

Literature-obsessed songwriters

Monday, March 17th, 2014

katebushFrom Flavorwire: 10 of Music’s Most Literature-Obsessed Songwriters. Shown: Kate Bush.

(Quote from Patti Smith: “I had devoted so much of my girlish daydreams to Rimbaud. Rimbaud was like my boyfriend.”)

It’s from Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, March 14th, 2014

From Huff Po: A letter Kurt Vonnegut once wrote to a high school whose students asked him to visit. He declined, but gave them some great advice. Here’s an excerpt:

“What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow. Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.”

Lost Beatles photos found

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


From Rolling Stone: Lost Beatles photographs found in Ringo’s basement!

Celebrating George Harrison’s birthday on Feb. 25.

RIP Mavis Gallant

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

From Shelf Awareness: Mavis Gallant, the internationally celebrated Canadian short story writer who lived and worked for most of her life in Paris, died yesterday, according to CBC. She was 91. The New Yorker published 114 of her stories and “nurtured her early career long before she was recognized in Canada,” CBC wrote.

The Guardian noted Gallant’s body of work — a dozen collections of short stories, two novels, a play, and numerous essays and reviews.

R.I.P. Sid Caesar

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The beloved comedian and TV pioneer Sid Caesar has died. If you’ve never seen him with the wonderful Imogene Coca, try this one. Together, they were magical.

R.I.P. Shirley Temple

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014


ShirleyTempleteenThe wonderful Shirley Temple Black died Feb. 10 at age 85. Here’s the Associated Press tribute to her.

I refer to her as “wonderful” because the little actress Shirley Temple did so much to help the country get through the Depression by brightening everyone’s spirits. Who could help but smile at that darling little girl with the curly hair?

She continued acting into her teen years, but lost some of her popularity along with her baby fat.

As an adult, she blazed quite a trail as a diplomat and ambassador, always representing the United States with grace and dignity.

When I was a child, I was a massive fan of her early movies. Oh, I can admit it; it’s true — I still am.

Rest in peace, Little Princess.


Meeting the Beatles

Monday, February 10th, 2014


In this Feb. 9, 1964, file photo, Paul McCartney, right, shows his guitar to host Ed Sullivan before the Beatles’ live television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in New York. The Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” America’s must-see weekly variety show, on Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964. (AP Photo, File)

Costa Book Award goes to nurse

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

wherethemoonisntFrom the Associated Press:

Mental health nurse Nathan Filer has won Britain’s Costa Book Award for his saga of schizophrenia, “The Shock of the Fall.”

The novel, Filer’s first, charts the story of two brothers split by a boyhood accident, taking the reader into the surviving sibling’s mind as he struggles to deal with mental illness and the fallout from his brother’s death.

Filer told the BBC the story was tinged with sadness but he believed the main character was one that readers would like to spend time with.

Filer’s book is published in the United States as “Where The Moon Isn’t.”

The Costa Book Award is worth 30,000 pounds (roughly $50,000). It’s open to writers based in Britain and Ireland.

R.I.P. Pete Seeger

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger died Monday night at age 94. Here is a link to the Truthdig article and the Demoracy Now video in tribute to him.

I adored him. I love the words in the obit, that he “surrounded hate and forced it to surrender.” May he rest in peace.

ALA announces award winners

Monday, January 27th, 2014

From a press release:

The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults — including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards — at its Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

floraandulyssesThe John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo. (Candlewick Press)

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named: “Doll Bones,” written by Holly Black and published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; “The Year of Billy Miller,” written by Kevin Henkes and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “One Came Home,” written by Amy Timberlake and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; and “Paperboy,” written by Vince Vawter and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

locomotivebrianflocaThe Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children was awarded to “Locomotive,” illustrated by Brian Floca. The book was written by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Journey,” written and illustrated by Aaron Becker and published by Candlewick Press; “Flora and the Flamingo,” written and illustrated by Molly Idle and published by Chronicle Books LLC; and “Mr. Wuffles!” written and illustrated by David Wiesner and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

For a complete list of winners (it’s long!), go to

Meet The Beatles!

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Meet_the_BeatlesOn this day in history, Jan. 20, 1964, The Beatles released their first album in the United States. After appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” the next month, on Feb. 9, their “Meet The Beatles!” album soared to number one on the Billboard charts and stayed there for 11 weeks, before being replaced by their second album. It was the first time an artist replaced itself at the peak album position.

Kate Atkinson’s novel wins Costa

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

LONDON (AP) — British writer Kate Atkinson has won the novel-of-the-year prize at Britain’s Costa Book Awards with her reality-altering historical saga “Life After Life.”

Other winners in the event’s five categories include poet Michael Symmons Roberts for his collection “Drysalter” and mental health nurse Nathan Filer, who takes the first-novel prize for his saga of madness, “The Shock of the Fall.”

Lucy Hughes-Hallett won the biography category for her portrait of an Italian Fascist, “The Pike,” while author and illustrator Chris Riddell won the children’s book prize for “Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse.”

One of the five books named Monday will be chosen as the overall winner and awarded 30,000 pounds ($50,000) at a Jan. 28 ceremony. The awards are open to writers based in Britain and Ireland.

R.I.P., Peter O’Toole

Monday, December 16th, 2013


One of my favorite actors has died. Peter O’Toole died Saturday at age 81.

Amazon drones?

Monday, December 2nd, 2013


Here’s a link to the video and transcript of Jeff Bezos of Amazon’s appearance on “60 Minutes,” in which he discussed possible drone delivery in the future.

Lost Beatles photos

Friday, November 22nd, 2013


From Rolling Stone: Lost Beatles photographs found in Ringo’s basement!

National Book Award winners

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

From the Associated Press:

James McBride won the National Book Award for fiction for his novel “The Good Lord Bird.” George Packer won the award for nonfiction for “The Unwinding.” Cynthia Kadohata won for young people’s literature for “The Thing About Luck” and Mary Szybist won for poetry for “Incardine.” Mary Angelou and E.L. Doctorow were awarded honorary medals.

Applebaum wins Cundill Prize

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

From a press release:

Author Anne Applebaum is the winner of the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill University for her book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956. The announcement was made at a gala dinner held last night in Toronto. At $75,000 (US), the Cundill Prize is the largest international literary prize for a work on history.

Applebaum’s winning book describes the circumstances under which Stalin was able to convert a dozen countries to a Communist system of government following the Second World War and chronicles what daily life was like for citizens once these changes had occurred.

R.I.P. Doris Lessing

Monday, November 18th, 2013


From AP: Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing has died at 94.

Movie stars

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013


From Vulture: Who are the 100 most valuable movie stars?

Royal christening today

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Little Prince George was christened today. Here’s a look at the planning behind it.

And the winner is …

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Alice Munro!


Yes, Canada’s Alice Munro has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature! Read about her here.

R.I.P. Tom Clancy

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013


From CBS: Author Tom Clancy has died:

A Baltimore-born former insurance agent, Clancy was known for writing meticulous thrillers focusing on political intrigue and military tactics and technology. He published 28 books — including a new novel yet to be released. Several were made into Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” and “The Sum of All Fears.”

From Associated Press: Best-selling author Tom Clancy has died at age 66

Return to Hogwarts!

Friday, September 13th, 2013


And now, for some REALLY happy news: J.K. Rowling is taking us back to the world of wizards. She will be writing the screenplay for a movie based on her book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” one of the Hogwarts textbooks she created. And it gets better: This is supposed to be the first of a series!

Rolling into Downton?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013


From Entertainment Weekly: The Rolling Stones on “Downton Abbey”? Five hilarious scenarios of how that could happen.