in memoriam

  Gene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 83 years old.

We spoke with Wilder around a decade ago about his memoir Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search for Love and Art. Today we share that interview in memoriam for the actor and comic genius. 

  Umberto Eco, an Italian scholar and author of best-selling novels, notably The Name of the Rose, died on Friday at his home in Milan, Italy. He was 84.

As a semiotician – one who studies signs and symbols and how they are used – Mr. Eco sought to interpret cultures and his scholarly studies were infused into his fiction writing.

Umberto Eco joined us on The Book Show in 2012 to discuss his then most-recent novel, The Prague Cemetery – a work that was denounced by the Vatican. We air a portion of that conversation in memoriam today. 

deerbrookeditions.com

  Our dear friend and colleague, Paul Elisha, has died at the age of 92. Paul was an inspiration, a mentor and confidant. He was filled with wit, passion, integrity and an understanding of what made us better people. There was music and poetry which he dispensed with beauty and candor.

Paul had been a part of The Roundtable since its inception. He was a frequent commentator, he hosted our long-time "Performance Place" series, and would regularly interview noted poets for his "A Bard's Eye View" segment.

In remembrance of Paul we share two of these interviews. The first with William Jay Smith and the second with Djelloul Marbrook.

Felix Clay / http://www.theguardian.com/

  British mystery and crime writer, Ruth Rendell, one of the most prolific authors in the genre with more than 60 novels, died at the age of 85 on May 2nd following a stroke in January.

We remember her, and her popular protagonist Chief Inspector Wexford, on this week’s Book Show.

Felix Clay / http://www.theguardian.com/

  British mystery and crime writer Ruth Rendell - one of the most prolific authors in the genre, with more than 60 novels - has died at age 85 following a stroke in January.

Rendell was best known for creating Inspector Reginald Wexford, a character that was later translated for television, becoming a popular series on British and American TV. She brought a psychological depth to the class mystery that gave readers unusual access to the emotional makeup of seeming ordinary people capable of foul deeds.

In an unaired interview we did with her in November of 2014 for her most recent novel, The Girl Next Door, we spoke about how she thought she'd grown as a writer over the course of her career.

    Joan Rivers kept audiences laughing through a 50-year career. It was a career that certainly had its bumps: bankruptcy, getting banned from The Tonight Show, and having her husband commit suicide - however, she was a constant presence on the road. She never stopped working and was always reinventing herself.

In this segment we share an archival interview with Joan Rivers and then welcome Susie Essman to the program to talk about what Joan meant to her.

Listener Essay - Remembering Peter Matthiessen

Jul 2, 2014

    In this essay, Jeanne Hunter remembers her friend, American novelist, naturalist, wilderness writer and CIA-agent Peter Matthiessen who passed away in April of this year.

    Dr. Maya Angelou, the memoirist and poet who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, died on Wednesday in her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86.

Born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis April 4, 1928, Angelou led a life that contained many adventures and accomplishments - any one of which might fill the entire life of another person - in addition to writing some of the most beautiful poetry and prose in existence - she was a dancer, calypso singer, streetcar conductor, single mother, magazine editor, administrative assistant, official of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Tony-nominated stage actress; and a college professor.

Here were share portions of some of Joe Donahue's conversations with her over the years.

    Cuban-American novelist, Oscar Hijuelos died this weekend at the age of 62. His book, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love was a best seller and earned him the Pulitzer for fiction in 1990 - making him the first Hispanic to earn that prize.

We spoke with Hijuelos on The Book Show in 2010 on the occasion of the publication of Beautiful Maria of My Soul – his 20 years-later muse-twin follow-up to Mambo Kings.

    Elmore Leonard, who died Tuesday at age 87 from complications from a recent stroke, influenced an entire generation of crime writers with his gritty crime novels and shoot-'em up Westerns. Works like “Get Shorty,” “Freaky Deaky” and “Glitz” established him as a modern master of American genre writing. His novels were often adapted for the large and small screen, including a short story, “Fire in the Hole” which was adapted for television as the FX show “Justified” which won a Peabody Award in 2011 in its second season.

Joe Donahue speaking with Elmore Leonard on the occasion of the publication of Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. We re-air a portion of that interview in memoriam.

7/11/13 - Panel

Jul 11, 2013

Today's panelists are WAMC's President and CEO Alan Chartock, Newsman Ray Graf, and Mike Spain, Associate Editor of The Times Union.

Topics:
Remembering Toshi Seeger
Camp Bisco
Plan by NYS Office of Mental Health to close nine state psychiatric centers
 

Musician Richie Havens died at 72 on Monday. The soft-spoken singer and guitarist stayed on the road for 45 years until ill health finally forced him to give up touring in 2012.

    Former New York City mayor Ed Koch died after a brief illness early this morning at 88, ending a long and often rambunctious public life. The former Congressman and permanent Big Apple ambassador spoke with Randy Cohen on WAMC’s Person Place Thing last year. They discussed Koch’s burial place in one of the last open plots in Manhattan.

Andrew Phelps/WBUR

David Rakoff, author humorous essay collections Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty - and frequent contributor to Public Radio International’s This American Life has died.

AP File Photo

Gore Vidal came from a generation of novelists whose fiction gave them a political platform. Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City; Kurt Vonnegut became an anti-war spokesman. And Vidal was an all-around critic. His novels sometimes infuriated readers with unflattering portraits of American history.

He also wrote essays and screenplays, and his play The Best Man currently has a revival on Broadway.