Writers of Worth Who Spent a Short Time on Earth

Among literature’s “writers for the ages” are many who died at a young or relatively young age. They packed memorable works into their short time on Earth — in some cases, just one or several works; in other cases, quite a few. Pretty impressive.

It’s poignant to think of what else they might have produced if they hadn’t died well before their senior-citizen days because of suicide, disease, alcoholism, hard living, an accident, etc. Some might have never surpassed the “A” quality of their early output, but even “B” work would have been welcome.

In this post, I’m going to focus on writers who never reached the age of 45.

The first I’ll mention is died-at-44 Joseph Roth (1894-1939), an Austrian writer who’s not that well known today but should be. This month I read his novel Right and Left, and was impressed. Not his best or most-remembered work — that’s probably The Radetzky March, which I haven’t read — but Right and Left is a fascinating look at several not particularly appealing characters living in 1920s Germany, just a few years before the Nazis rose to power. Roth conveys what it’s like for Jewish or part-Jewish people to live at that time and place, and we see plenty of politics, wealth, poverty, unhappy relationships, self-hatred, shallowness, melancholy, and more.

Also 44 when they died were four much more famous writers: Anton Chekhov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson, and D.H. Lawrence.

Chekhov is of course known for his terrific, subtle short stories as well as his plays. Fitzgerald is obviously most associated with his great The Great Gatsby, but one can also find a lot to like in his novels Tender Is the Night and (the unfinished) The Last Tycoon. This Side of Paradise? Meh. I plan to eventually read Fitzgerald’s short stories.

The novels Stevenson is most remembered for include Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — but, as I’ve written before, I think his last book was his best: the exquisite Weir of Hermiston, unfortunately also not completed. Lawrence made his mark with novels such as Sons and Lovers and Women in Love.

I’ll take a brief break here from writers known mostly for novels or short stories to mention some known mainly for poetry during their short lives: Countee Cullen (who lived to 42), Arthur Rimbaud (37), Lord Byron (36), Phillis Wheatley (31), Percy Bysshe Shelley (29), and John Keats (25). In the theatrical realm, we have A Raisin in the Sun playwright Lorraine Hansberry (34).

Nikolai Gogol, who lived to 42, was a playwright, novelist (Dead Souls), and more. Guy de Maupassant, also 42, made his name with short stories and some novels. Jane Austen of course wrote six now-classic novels (including Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion) before dying at 41. Jack London churned out a large number of works in his 40 short years on Earth, with my four favorite novels of his The Call of the Wild, White Fang, The Sea-Wolf, and Martin Eden. Edgar Allan Poe produced many works of horror and some non-horror before dying at age 40. And Franz Kafka (40), is perhaps best known for his surreal novella The Metamorphosis.

There are also Flannery O’Connor (39), most famous for her story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and her novel Wise Blood; Alexander Pushkin (37), the Russian poet, playwright, and novelist; Nathanael West (37) of The Day of the Locust and Miss Lonelyhearts renown; John Kennedy Toole (31), whose Pulitzer Prize-winning A Confederacy of Dunces was published posthumously through the efforts of his mother and author Walker Percy; Sylvia Plath (30), who wrote The Bell Jar and more; and Stephen Crane (28), who penned The Red Badge of Courage and more.

Before concluding, I obviously also have to mention the Brontë sisters: Charlotte, 38; Emily, 30; and Anne, 29 (all pictured in the painting atop this blog post). Charlotte lived long enough to pen several novels, including the iconic Jane Eyre. Emily’s one novel was of course the tempestuous Wuthering Heights, and the best of Anne’s two novels was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. There was more than a little Brontë poetry, too.

Who are some of your favorite writers (ones I mentioned or didn’t) who died young or relatively young? You can go a few years over 45 if you’d like (as did George Orwell, O. Henry, Henry Fielding, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Margaret Mitchell, Edward Bellamy, Carson McCullers, Stieg Larsson, Honoré de Balzac, William Shakespeare, Richard Wright, Mary Shelley, Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, James Hilton, etc.)!

My 2017 literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about a heartwarming fundraiser and not-heartwarming overdevelopment — is here.

140 thoughts on “Writers of Worth Who Spent a Short Time on Earth

    • Thank you for mentioning Jaroslav Hašek, damoneramone! Can’t believe I forgot to include him. I loved his antiwar novel “The Good Soldier Svejk” — so funny and insightful.

      Yes, Hašek had a VERY similar life span to Kafka.

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  1. Growing up I would ardently read Chekhov, Keats and Shelley ( finest Romantic poets) Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a great example of autobiographical fiction. Both Virginia Woolf and Kafka died pretty young, and left indelible mark on me as a writer.

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    • Thank you, Tanya! I love the work of all those writers, and I can see the influence of some of them on your terrific poetry.

      Hard to believe Virginia Woolf, who committed suicide at age 59, far outlived the other five writers you mentioned even though she wasn’t that old herself.

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        • You’re welcome, Tanya!

          Four more great writers you mentioned. 🙂 I didn’t realize until recently that Guy de Maupassant was also an excellent novelist in addition to being a memorable short-story writer.

          O. Henry’s “The Last Leaf” story is so poignant.

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      • Yes apart from Tuberculosis many of the modernist writers like Woolf suffered from depression and neurosis. I also thought of Anne Sexton, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath, the three great female poets who died very young!

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          • David the concept of tragedy in post modernism has taken a new meaning. Earlier the tragic writing meant external reasons of the great fall but after the romantic period in literature the tragedy became internalized and more personal. The moral crisis and dilemma of a modern human which these writers successfully portrayed perhaps due to their own experiences. Also as a writer I’ve realized pathos and suffering can bring out some hidden pearls. Pain is more relatable than comedy I feel!

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  2. Another fascinating theme for us to ponder, Dave. Thank you! It seems writers who die young were often troubled — depression, alcohol/drug addictions, various forms of mental illness. This is often true for artists in general, but it has always seemed more so for writers. Does the writing process exact such a personal toll and require so much self-examination that it leads to despair for one already so inclined? I knew I wanted to be a writer as far back as the 5th grade. It’s something I must do from time to time; I have no choice. However, anytime I have tried to write seriously, anytime I have felt the need to sort through pieces of my past, it is too uncomfortable and not worth doing. In traversing one’s own experiences, the terrain can be tricky and deceptive. Remembrances of past joys can suddenly U-turn to mine fields of old wounds which may not have fully healed even yet. If you go back and if you go deep enough to bare your soul to the world, one word at a time, one page at a time, is that enough to push someone, eventually, to self-destruct? Just wondering. I also wonder if those writers who use humor and biting wit are less susceptible to the darkness that befalls some others, not because they never experienced pain but because humor became their coping mechanism for survival.

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    • Excellent/extremely eloquent observations, Pat. For some writers, writing may indeed be agonizing enough to affect their life spans in direct or indirect ways. And/or, in some cases, people with an element of self-destruction to their personality might gravitate to writing.

      And, yes, memoir-type writing — whether a book or a short piece — can be tricky and painful. Sorry your experiences with that have been difficult.

      It’s true humor can be an effective coping mechanism, but of course not foolproof against darkness — as exemplified by the case of someone like Robin Williams.

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      • Thank you for your kind reply, Dave. Yes, Robin Williams is a perfect example of how brilliance and inner turmoil often go hand-in-hand. You know, I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but Robin Williams’ death is something that still makes me sad, in an almost personal way. Celebrities die all the time, frequently by their own choice. We feel shock and disbelief, and then it’s over. I’m not sure why there is a difference where Robin Williams is concerned, but there is.

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  3. Really nice piece (& blog) – I’ve been reading the Woolf’s diaries of late, bringing to mind her one time nemesis Katherine Mansfield who died at 34. And going further back & a little more obsure Georg Büchner (23!) & the poet Novalis (28) – both Germans, and a pair of French poets Apollinaire (38) & Rimbaud (37).

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      • Rimbaud is an intriguing case of a poet’s early death, in that he wrote poems at quite a rate as a young man, but left poetry years before he died, spending his adult years in northern Africa, running guns and generally trying to make it rich before returning to his mother’s home in France to die.

        According to wikipedia, he wrote no poetry past the age of 21.

        Appollinaire endured a shrapnel wound to the head from which he never recovered fully during WWI, and died of the Spanish influenza outbreak in 1918– an outbreak which killed more people, worldwide, than WWI.

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        • I’ve got an old well-worn copy of Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell” and “The Drunken Boat” that has the original French version facing a page of the English translation. I had thoughts way back then, that I’d someday learn enough French to read both the English plus the French. I’m still waiting to know the French to read anything, let alone a very dense poem, other than a few words here and there.

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  4. As I skim over the comments to date, I note no mention of
    1) Raymond Radiguet, novelist, who died of TB at 20. He is the author of “The Devil and the Flesh” and “The Ball of Count D’Orgel”, but he was not happy necessarily at his work– Cocteau, mentor and champion, recounted having locked him in his room for hours till he produced prose. I have read both these novels, though I haven’t looked them over in years– what I recall: great overview of the complexities and hypocrisies of the contemporary social scene in post WWI France. .

    2) Hart Crane, American poet, whose most famous work is “”The Bridge, died at 33, by suicide, leaping from the Orizaba, the ship on which he had planned to return to New York from Mexico. His body was never recovered. A strange irony: Crane’s grandfather invented the lifesaver candy.

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    • Thank you, jhNY! Wow — what a young writer Raymond Radiguet was! Two novels in such a short life. I have to admit I had never heard of him until seeing your comment.

      And I appreciate the mention of Hart Crane, who I definitely knew about but forgot to include in my post. Very interesting information you offered about him, and the irony of his grandfather’s invention.

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  5. Dave, I’d like to add to this column my beloved brother Roger, who published a small pamphlet of poems (with illustrations) in 1966. It was entitled “Considerations.” I was five years younger than he (I’m now 69), but we were closer than any others than in my siblings of six, including me. I suppose I’m thinking about him this morning because there’s the story percolating about Trump getting out of the Vietnam war because a podiatrist who was friendly with his father wrote a note about him having bone spurs, so he wasn’t accepted (after four other deferments for being in college). This probably makes me more angry than anything he’s ever done, along with disrespecting Sen. John McCain, as well as Robert Mueller. As I’ve said before, my brother served in prison for 18 months because he felt it was his duty to abide by the laws of the country. I don’t judge anyone who didn’t serve, at least because of their conscience and instead how their rich families got them out of harm’s way.

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    • Kat Lit, very glad you mentioned your brother, who was obviously a very talented and very principled person.

      I saw that New York Times story about Trump and the podiatrist who was friendly with Trump’s father. I don’t blame anyone for trying to get out of the immoral Vietnam War, but Trump obviously lied about his health (among his countless other lies before and since). Heck, he was involved in all kinds of athletics at the time while he had his supposed bone spurs. Definitely not a decision of conscience, like your brother’s. Plus, Trump is so gung-ho about the U.S. military — sharply increasing its already-bloated budget, thus making him a total hypocrite. Any immoral war is fine with him, as long as he and other rich people, and their children, don’t have to fight.

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      • Thanks, Dave. I neglected to mention something about my brother is that he died quite young somewhere around age 30 (I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t remember dates of when people close to me died). I figured out that I’d rather remember them every day, not any special day.

        On a happier note, I’m listening to the recording from the Broadway show “Hamilton,” which is so amazing. I’m awaiting the CD of “Springsteen on Broadway” as well as one of Joni Mitchell’s older CDs, “Ladies of the Canyon.”
        I spent most of yesterday afternoon pulling out my CDs that had been relegated to a very dark closet in my living room and organizing them in alphabetical order by genre in a bookcase in my bedroom.

        I suppose there’s something about the New Year that has engendered many of the “best of” lists. The latest one I saw was about the best of all front men/women for rock bands. It didn’t list them in order (I don’t think) but the first one was Freddie Mercury (Queen).. There were Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Jim Morrison, both Lennon/McCartney, Robert Plant , Mick Jagger and others. and some women like Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, and Joni Mitchell. These are most of my favorite rock performers.

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        • Somewhere around 30 is so young. 😦

          Nice that you’re unearthing your CDs! The “Hamilton” soundtrack IS incredible; I’ve never seen the play, but my younger daughter often sings excerpts she’s seen on YouTube. 🙂 I’m sure “Springsteen on Broadway” will also be a terrific CD — as is “Ladies of the Canyon” by the great Joni Mitchell.

          Excellent list of front men/women!

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          • I’m interested in hearing what else Maria is listening to these days. When I grew up there weren’t as many choices as there are today. And there wasn’t as much knowledge or tech as there is today. Even when I was in College we didn’t listen as much as kids are today, or the many LPs we had back then. I still remember back in my sorority days, one of my sisters went out and there were at least 20 of us sitting listening to the entire White Album of the Beatles. I’m not sure that it’s a bad idea to have some immediate gratification.

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            • Kat Lit, I’m not sure about everything 11-year-old Maria listens to these days, but it includes Meghan Trainor, Taylor Swift, Silentó, Beyoncé, one old song by The Cranberries (“Zombie”) — and Elvis Presley! 🙂 She mostly listens to/watches songs on YouTube via her iPad. And, yes, listening to music in 2018 is a MUCH different thing from the days when we sat around a record player. 🙂

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              • OK, I promise this will be the last time I’ll bring up a topic of best ever lists, but I was interested to see the list of the 100 best rock groups ever. Here are the ones of five best: 5) The Rolling Stones; 4) Pink Floyd; 3) Queen; 2) Zed Zeppelin; and of course 1) was the Beatles. Other than it was surprising that the E Street Band wasn’t included at all, it was interesting to me that I knew so few of the newer groups, but I know in the years past so-called classic rock, I was more interested in folk, classical music and Broadway showtunes; and still am these days. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve got very eclectic tastes in music, or anything these days, but I now usually get fixated on a new singer or band, such as happened with me on Bowie and then now with Freddie Mercury/Queen. Can you tell? 🙂

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                • Thank you, Kat Lit! It’s hard to argue with that top-5 list, though I would personally include U2 and perhaps The Who, while knocking out Queen and Pink Floyd — though the latter two would still be firmly in the top 10. I’d also put Rush somewhere in the 8-10 area. Just one person’s opinion. 🙂

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                • One other thing is that I shudder to think what I listened to at Maria’s age. I know one was Pat Boone and a group “The Lettermen.” My eldest brother was into jazz and blues, my youngest brother was into the early folk scene, where I eventually followed him. I don’t really remember my other siblings’ favorites, but I do recall my middle brother made it onto American Bandstand, which used to be held in Philly, but I don’t think he danced at all, and eventually ended up being a fan of country music. I’m not sure about my sisters, but the eldest one liked Neil Diamond, and the other liked certain artists that I did such as Nanci Griffith, Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris, as well as showtunes. I know my tastes have changed through the years, though they have remained the same when it comes to rock, pop, folk/rock, showtunes and classical.

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                  • Sounds like you listened to/were exposed to a wide variety of musical genres and great music, Kat Lit! I think most of us shudder, in retrospect, at some of the things we listened to as kids. 🙂

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    • Kat Lit, your brother had principles and stood his ground, knowing there would be consequences and accepting the outcome. That had to have been such a difficult decision for him to make, knowing what lay ahead. I know your brother is always with you, Kat Lit. How infuriating it must be to read these recent stories. In Trump’s world, everything and everybody can be purchased for money and lies.

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  6. Emily Dickinson ,lived much of her life in reclusive isolation. she was considered as an eccentric by the locals in the town, she never married She was a recluse for the later years of her life. Could that be because she was shy because most of her friendship was through correspondence.
    While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime .

    Dave, today in trump`s world that is not such a bad thing, anyways she died when 55.

    Here is one…

    I’m Nobody! Who are you?
    Are you – Nobody – too?
    Then there’s a pair of us!
    Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

    How dreary – to be – Somebody!
    How public – like a Frog –
    To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
    To an admiring Bog!

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    • Thank you, bebe! I love Emily Dickinson’s work (I have a collection of her poems on one of my living-room bookshelves). And, yes, her quiet privacy and immense talent made her kind of an opposite of Trump, who craves being in the limelight and has no talent — except to be mean, I guess.

      Hope you have a great Christmas Day!

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      • Thanks to you and bebe. I too have a book of her poetry on my shelves. I’ve been in my reading drought for a while now, and so rather than beating myself up for that, I’ve decided to concentrate on my piano, listening to music and reading poetry, and going back to the calming activity and somewhat creative act of coloring. I’ve decided I love music more than anything So, does this mean I’m going to get kicked off the blog?! 🙂

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        • HA…Kat Lit…we are so like minded, and I am waiting my Pomchi to wake up then I will crank up the music today. In the morning that`s what I do, turn up the volume and listen.
          Dave is also a music lover so I think we both are safe in here 🙂

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          • Hey bebe, I’m glad I’m not the only one to feel this way. I do know that Dave loves music as well, so I’m not too concerned about this as far as Dave goes, as well as his being one of the kindest persons I’ve had the privilege to know.

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            • Very nice of you to say that, Kat Lit. Thank you!

              And — ha! — no one’s getting kicked off this blog. 🙂 I went through a period myself when I didn’t read many novels, and eventually recovered. 🙂

              Kat Lit and bebe, I do love music. bebe, I hope Pomchi has woken up by now so that the music can begin in your household. Perhaps one of the terrific CDs of your songs?

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              • Dave , you are so very kind and I hundred percent agree with Kat Lit !
                Yaa…POM wanted to go to bed at 9 last night and as a result I was wide awake before 4 AM. How that other woman sleeps ten hours we shall never know :).

                I am also not reading much lately, all the horrible thing this demagogue does daily, I find totally exhausting.

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      • You are up Dave !
        We don`t celebrate anything but one thing I love is the music, by Frank Sinatra, Aaron Neville, , Nat King Cole…what a gift they are.

        Also now finally I am into “Past Tense ” by Lee Child. Now I am past 100 pages from yesterday. Oh, what a book, I am still waiting how He is going to connect the dots of two stories going side by side , one would be Reacher ..

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              • Thanks bebe for your link to “O Holy Night,” while I’m no longer religious in any sense, but this song was my father’s favorite, even though he wasn’t religious either. We belonged to a Presbyterian Church as kids when younger,and I still remember the name of the woman who sang this every year at Christmas services, when we were kids. .

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                • Kat Lit I am far from being religious, never attend any churches or temples , but to me music is different., Aaron Neville is one of my favorite , and then there is Frank Sinatra who is long gone. Now nothing else matters except his music, surprising to know he never had any music training.

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          • Dave yesterday was one boring day for me, weather was with dull overcast sky, everything even grocery store closed. BUT…

            I was reading this…a thriller still have 70 some pages left, this morning I set everything aside and read some more, still waiting pins and needles for Reacher to come for rescue ..

            Something about Jack Reacher books, we know for sure he will always come up intact…and I hope it stays that way…

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            • bebe, sorry about your boring day yesterday, but glad “Past Tense” continues to be a page-turner! I just read the mini-review of Lee Child’s novel in the link you provided — definitely a rave!

              Yes, Jack Reacher always survives in the end — though sometimes battered. Will be VERY interesting to see how Jack fares in the final Reacher novel, whenever that might be.

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      • bebe and Dave, I spent part of Xmas day at Bill’s daughter’s home up here in the Poconos. Her daughter Cara and her boyfriend were there and the boyfriend out of the blue told me he’d received two books of poetry for Xmas, 1) works by Charles Bukowski (who I’d never heard of before, that I remember, and 2) the collected works of Emily Dickinson. I thought it so great that there’s a millennial who was interested in reading poetry, especially by a female one. That’s my cynical side coming out. But they were surprised as well to learn I was a huge fan of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” which Cara is using as a thesis this year as for her master’s degree at Savannah College of Design. Sue at Work who often posts here is also another Buffy fan — my dog Willow is named after Buffy’s best friend who becomes a witch at some point in the TV series!

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    • My first week in college, on my first day in English Lit. class, the professor asked everyone to state his/her name and favorite writer. Due to where I was sitting, my time to speak came fairly soon. I had already read “To Kill a Mockingbird” multiple times, starting at the age of 14. Why didn’t I just say Harper Lee? My mind went blank. In an effort to sound sophisticated and smart, I said my favorite writer was Emily Dickinson, even though I had never read a word she had written. After the introductions were done, this wily professor informed us we had each chosen the theme of our own term papers when we named our favorite writers. Only at that moment did a flood of names come to mind whose works I had actually read, including Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe, HARPER LEE! I was not the least bit interested in learning the first thing about Emily Dickinson, much less having to read her antiquated (I was sure) poetry. Long story short, by the end of that term Emily Dickinson was, and remains, my favorite poet.

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      • Pat, I love that story about how you introduced yourself to and grew to love Emily Dickinson’s poems! Funny, and well told. 🙂 It’s interesting what people say when their mind goes blank and/or they’re trying “to sound sophisticated and smart”!

        Also, great that you had read Poe, Jack London, and Harper Lee before college. Of those three, I had just read Poe at that time of my life.

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        • To be fair, the only thing I had read by Jack London was “White Fang” — I can’t recall why; most likely, I was fascinated by the title. Also, I had already read “Old Yeller” and I probably figured “White Fang” had to be good since it was about a dog. I’m absolutely certain my absorption of the story was superficial, at best. As for Poe, it was impossible to get through high school without being forced to memorize “The Raven” (no regrets) and “Annabel Lee” (total waste of time which could have otherwise been spent doing literally anything else). That reminds me, we also had to memorize “The Charge of the Light Brigade”(!) — very helpful later on in my real life in the real world … just like algebra 😉 … But, back to Mr. Poe: my lifelong love of thrillers and spine-tingling horror stories began with “The Tell Tale Heart”.

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          • Pat, I found “White Fang” to be quite a page-turner, and was fascinated that it was almost a mirror image of “The Call of the Wild.” A dog/wolf going from the wild to civilization, and vice versa.

            LOL — your deadpan remark about “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” 🙂 Yes, not exactly a needed-for-life memorization…

            I loved Poe’s work as a teen. I had a collection (still do) of his stories and poems that started with…”The Tell-Tale Heart.” A chilling tale indeed.

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            • I think I may have that same Poe collection, Dave. There were certain of my beloved books I had to leave behind when I moved to Iowa, but some of them are along for the ride, no matter what: complete works of Poe, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, as well as “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Catch-22”, “Jane Eyre” (because I promised you I would read it, and, by golly, one of these days I’m going to do that!), “All the King’s Men”, “Gone with the Wind”, “The Great Gatsby”, and on and on — oh, and my autographed copy of “Comic (and Column) Confessional” by the brilliant Dave Astor (“Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia” has a permanent home in my Kindle).

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              • Possibly the same Poe collection? Wow! And I hear you, Pat, about some books that just HAVE to be kept. There were certainly many such books for me when I moved in 2014, though I had to jettison about two-thirds of my books for the downsize from a house to an apartment.

                And thanks so much for mentioning my two books in such a nice way! I greatly appreciate it. 🙂

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  7. He was a writer of the musical “Rent”, inspired by Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Jonathan Larson died suddenly at age 35 in 1996. HIs renowned musical was in pre-views off Broadway at the time of his passing. The musical “Rent” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The Tony Award for both best Musical and book of a Musical to name a few prestigious awards. The soundtrack is one that I play often on my IPod teaches many lessons including being accepting to all people and being open to people’s differences. Seasons of Love is a song to play not just during the holidays but all year long!

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    • That’s right, Michele! I remember Jonathan Larson’s death — just before he became ultra-famous for “Rent.” Sort of like Stieg Larsson’s death, shortly before his Millennium Trilogy became a mega-bestseller. So unfair. 😦

      Thank you for mentioning Larson.

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    • Hi, Michele, I have to say my best girlfriend and I went to NYC to see “Rent,” and we were the only two of those that disliked the Broadway show, But however, I must say that my friend had just had a diagnosis of breast cancer the day before, so we were both sad to say the least, so I’d like to see the play and listen to it again, because I’m sure that we would have loved it under better circumstances, as we did with all of the many shows we saw together for many years! I just ordered myself the recordings of “Hamilton,” and “Springsteen on Broadway.” I wish I could go back to seeing shows that we were able to see many years ago, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me any longer, but I have my memories and recordings of all the shows we saw together. That sounds as though something happened to her, but we had a falling out almost 8 years ago and I hope all is right with her.

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      • Hi Kat
        Thanks for your response to my post. Sounds like you shared many happy memories with your friend thru the magic of theatre that transports and heals. I hope you can re-connect, think of Seasons Of Love:

        🙂

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    • Thank you, Molly! I included so many names of writers who died young that I made it hard for people to think of other ones. 🙂 But, yes, Christmas cookies (and other holiday foods) can slllowww downnnn ourr brraiains…

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  8. Hi Dave, it’s good to have you back online and hope that all went well. I’m going to mention someone that I’ve talked about before, but this was such a tragedy it stands out in my mind. Richard Farina wrote the novel “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me,” my favorite book title ever. He was married to both Carolyn Hester and then to Mimi Baez (Joan’s sister). Mimi and Richard recorded two albums together that I love, “Celebrations for a Grey Day ” and “Reflections in a Crystal Wind.” The best-known song he wrote was “Pack Up Your Sorrows.” He also wrote short stories and poetry. He was attending a book signing on Mimi’s birthday and went on a motorcycle driven by someone else, much too fast, it crashed and he died instantly at age 29. By the way, he was friends with Dylan, and Thomas Pynchon, who served as best man at his wedding to Mimi and dedicated his novel, “Gravity’s Rainbow” to Farina. Joan’s song “Sweet Sir Galahad” was written with Farina in mind and her sister’s grief.

    On another musical note, we’ve discussed Freddie Mercury of Queen dying much too young at age 45 from AIDS. I was just reading something online yesterday about the ranking of the best 25 vocalists in rock, David Bowie came in at number 4, but no surprise that Mercury was considered the best ever. Second try posting:

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    • Thank you, Kat Lit! Happy to be back, and things did go well with my mother’s estate. After I and my sister made multiple 2018 trips to Florida, the condo is now cleaned out and on the market as of last week.

      So many musicians who died young — in addition to Freddie Mercury and Richard Farina, there was of course Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Duane Allman, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Karen Carpenter, Tupac Shakur, Amy Winehouse, Selena, Brian Jones, Sid Vicious, Hank Williams, etc., etc. As you probably know, Morrison used the line “been down so long it looks like up to me” in The Doors song “Been Down So Long”; I assume he was inspired by Farina.

      I’m also not surprised that Mercury topped that vocalist poll. Was that for male rock vocalists or all rock vocalists? I can certainly think of some amazing female rock vocalists — Aretha Franklin, Annie Haslam, Tina Turner, Adele, Whitney Houston, Dolores O’Riordan, Stevie Nicks, Amy Lee, Natalie Merchant, Ann Wilson, Grace Slick, Linda Ronstadt, Beyoncé, Pink, and so on!

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      • The list was for all rock vocalists, and some of the women you mentioned made the cut: Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin that I can remember. I also remember being at UT at Austin back in 1970 and Janis Joplin returned to her alma mater for a concert in the gym. A friend and I couldn’t afford tickets, but we managed to find an open back door at intermission with no one guarding it. Of course by that time, she had already imbibed a lot of alcohol (I think she preferred Southern Comfort), but she was amazing! From those musicians you listed, Jim Morrison, who of course I saw in concert, in Philly, and Karen Carpenter were favorites of mine. I think the latter wasn’t considered a rock musician, but more of a pop star, and even Linda Ronstadt for that matter, though their vocals were both incredible.

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        • Wonderful that you got to see Janis Joplin, Kat Lit! Worth sneaking in for!

          Yes, Karen Carpenter is/was among the great popular-music vocalists who aren’t/weren’t rock vocalists per se. Hard to know exactly where to draw the line. 🙂

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          • I promise you that was the last time I snuck in anywhere. 🙂
            I was such a “goodie two shoes” back in those days that I’m surprised I did so, though it was half over when we did it.. But I’m sure that’s what I remember one of those things I most from those college days. I managed to dig out my 3-disc CD collection of Mimi and Richard Farina. In addition to the two CDs I mentioned above, Mimi released an album called “Memories” released after Richard died. There was a book written about the days of Joan and Dylan, and Richard and Mimi. I’ll have to look for it someday.

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  9. So much great talent here, and so daunting to see how much of it was produced at such a young age! I’ll have to add Mikhail Lermontov, who was killed in a duel at the age of 27, Vladimir Mayakovsky, who committed suicide in his thirties, and Marina Tsvetaeva and Alexander Blok, both of whom died in their forties, Tsvetaeva from suicide and Blok from a lengthy illness that may have been syphilis. And, from the previous century, the poet Bararynsky died at 44 from a sudden illness while traveling, after outliving many of his contemporaries. Being a Russian poet is a dangerous business! Good thing poetic talent tends to appear young.

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  10. In the broadest of terms, Buddy Holly could be considered a prolific writer. In his amazingly short life, he created a huge body of work, all memorable!!! I have often wondered what music we would have been blessed with if he had lived.

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  11. So many authors who died so young! I love Shirley Jackson’s writing, and her life story certainly has captured my imagination. In addition, the poet Jane Kenyon was only 47 when she died. Her poem “Otherwise” is so lovely and so thought-provoking. One day I got on the elevator in my building, and in the slot where there is usually an ad for a community event or some such, a simple, black and white copy of her poem was affixed. I read that every day for weeks until it was removed. This prompted me, of course, to learn more about her life and works.

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  12. Hi Dave , welcome back !
    Stieg Larsson came to my mind, the author of Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Mr. Larsson wrote all three and died suddenly. Us the readers were so much fascinated by Lisbeth Salander we were deeply saddened by his untimely death .
    And we would never know if Lisbeth ever was able to find her love .

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