Two of my favorite authors recently passed away. Two completely different writers but of one generation of classy classic writers. Thank god their books live on.
J.D Salinger. Author J.D. Salinger died recently at 91. Everyone claims he wrote a number of great books. I only read one. Catcher in the Rye. And I have reread it several times. While some people claim parts are antiquated and out of date <therefore not relevant> I say first … baloney … and second … its message will never go out of style. Awesome book. Funny and insightful and not just a tad nutty.
All morons hate it when you call them a moron. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye.
Catcher is narrated by Holden Caulfield, an angry prep school student who rails against “phonies” … and that message remains relevant today. Even though good ole JD was pretty much a recluse I was sad to hear of his passing.
It is interesting <to me> because two of my favorite books of all time, Catcher and To Kill a Mockingbird, were written by reclusive authors with a limited writing portfolio beyond their brilliant masterpieces. Maybe the lesson to us <non masterpiece writers> is that if you can only do one thing great in your lifetime … well … that makes for a great life.
Anyway. As I mention Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird I thought I would digress for a second and share my short list of classics I believe should be on everyone’s shelf <at minimum … every child should have the opportunity to read them>:
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter (shortest best book ever written)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (the movie is even wackier than the book … and you will forever say ‘catch 22’ in conversations after reading this)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (if you can believe it … the book is even better than the movie)
On the Beach by Neil Shute (thoughtful … insightful … possibly the best post-apocalypse novel of all time – Alas Babylon may be better – … most people cry at the end)
Sorry. I was never a big Animal Farm or Separate Peace fan <but everyone should try and read them as well as Lord of the Flies>.
Next favorite author who passed away:
Dick Francis. British mystery writer and former champion jockey Dick Francis passed away at 89 a couple of weeks ago.
So. I am gonna get slammed for calling Dick Francis books “classics.” Tough noogies.
Before he became an author as a professional jockey, he won 345 of the more than 2,300 races he rode taking the title of Champion Jockey for the 1953-54 season. His most famous moment in racing came just a few months before he retired, when, riding for Queen Elizabeth, his horse collapsed inexplicably within sight of certain victory in the 1956 Grand National.
After a career as successful steeplechase jockey, Francis turned to writing completing 42 novels almost all of which featured horse racing as a theme or an integral part of the story. During his writing career, Francis won three Edgar Allen Poe awards given by The Mystery Writers of America for his novels Forfeit (1968), Whip Hand (1979) and Come to Grief (1995).
His writing style was easy to absorb and always interesting. He wrapped horse racing around interesting topics – restaurants, publishing, vineyards, accounting, etc. He was amazing at weaving in a way to give his readers insight not only into horse racing but also the other career/storyline he intertwined with the mystery. I never failed to learn something interesting … and still be entertained … when reading a Dick Francis book. Whether you like horse racing or not I believe everyone should read several of Dick Francis’ early books.
That’s it. Two really good writers. A generation is passing before our eyes … leaving their books behind.