LA Times reports that beloved novelist Chuck Kinder, who was also the inspiration for the central character in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, has passed away.
Kinder was regarded as a literary force with a larger-than-life personality, and published many titles, including Snakehunter, The Silver Ghost, Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale, Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life, and last year’s Hot Jewels.
Image via Amazon
Honeymooners was Kinder’s most popular book, and tells the story of two bad-boy writers, who were inspired by real-life friend Raymond Carver, and himself.
He was also famous for mentoring Michael Chabon when the Pulitzer Prize-winning author was still an undergraduate student in the 1980s. The late author was believed to be the inspiration for the character Grady Tripp, the disheveled, pot-addicted writer and professor in Chabon’s Wonder Boys (The character was portrayed by Michael Douglas in the 2000 adaptation).
Image via Amazon
Kinder’s former student, novelist, and screenwriter, April Smith, praised her teacher, “[Kinder’s] work was and remains outstanding and fresh. He was a born storyteller with an instinct for myth, which was not exactly in favor compared to pared-down modernists like John Updike.”
Image via LA Times
Another former student, Carl Kurlander, posted as well, reminiscing about Kinder’s warmth and creation of a safe space for fellow writers during his 40 years as a teacher:
“When I first came back to Pittsburgh for what I thought would be a one year Hollywood sabbatical, I met a great teacher/writer/human being named Chuck Kinder who embraced me so warmly, it was one of the reasons I felt like staying.”
After a number of health issues including two strokes, a heart attack, and triple-bypass surgery, Kinder retired as the director of University of Pittsburgh’s creative writing program in 2014, and settled in Key Largo, Florida, with his wife, Cecily.
Kinder was seventy-fix-years old. He will be remembered by admirers and all whose talents he helped foster.
There are so many wonderful books in the world and with more published every week it can be hard to know where to start, especially on Mondays, when everything is ten times harder than it usually is. So let us do the work for you. Here are the three books you need to be reading this week. You’re welcome. This week it’s The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, Pops by Michael Chabon and Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin.
A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.
They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.
When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed.
Thirteen days. An unexpected twist. The Perfect Mother isa “true page turner.” —B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors
This book has been receiving serious amounts of hype, and for good reason. Challenging the notion that mothers must be perfect, totally infallible beacons of morality, Molloy plays on society’s views of mothers and the obligations and expectations of motherhood, while combining this complex critique with a thrilling plot that keeps you turning pages.
Book of the Month had this to say: “To have children, we are told, is to achieve our ultimate glory. It’s also our chance to be totally judged. Through the eyes of these moms, we experience the struggles—the loneliness, fears, and worries—of parenting. But this isn’t just a social commentary. It’s a hair-raising, terrifying, urgent thriller told with abundant complexity (and creepiness). I dare say once you start reading this, you will never be able to put it down.”
“Magical prose stylist” Michael Chabon (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) delivers a collection of essays—heartfelt, humorous, insightful, wise—on the meaning of fatherhood.
For the September 2016 issue of GQ, Michael Chabon wrote a piece about accompanying his son Abraham Chabon, then thirteen, to Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Possessed with a precocious sense of style, Abe was in his element chatting with designers he idolized and turning a critical eye to the freshest runway looks of the season; Chabon Sr., whose interest in clothing stops at “thrift-shopping for vintage western shirts or Hermès neckties,” sat idly by, staving off yawns and fighting the impulse that the whole thing was a massive waste of time. Despite his own indifference, however, what gradually emerged as Chabon ferried his son to and from fashion shows was a deep respect for his son’s passion. The piece quickly became a viral sensation.
With the GQ story as its centerpiece, and featuring six additional essays plus an introduction, Pops illuminates the meaning, magic, and mysteries of fatherhood as only Michael Chabon can.
I am a huge Michael Chabon fan. Huge. He can do very little wrong in my opinion. I was first turned on to him when I heard him narrate half of his exquisite short story “Werewolves in Their Youth,” on an episode of This American Life. I subsequently made my family sit in silence and listen to it and talked relentlessly about it to anyone unfortunate enough to cross my pass in the month that followed. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. Anyway, everything he writes is brilliant and worth reading, regardless of whether it’s a short story, a novel, an essay or whatever. That’s why I’m as excited as I always am to read his new publication Pops.
It centers around his essay for GQ about bringing his son to Paris Fashion Week, which I read long before I knew who Michael Chabon was, and which is profoundly moving. I couldn’t believe it, when was in my Chabon honeymoon phase, obsessively Googling and reading up on everything he’s ever done, and discovered that he had written the essay that I remembered so fondly. He’s just great and you should read him.
Miranda July meets Mary Karr in this brilliant debut novel from Jen Beagin, Whiting Award winner and “one of the freshest voices I’ve read in years—funny, wise, whip-smart and compassionate” (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins), about a cleaning lady on a quest for self-acceptance after her relationship with a loveable junkie goes awry.
Jen Beagin’s quirky, moving, “frank and unflinching” (Josh Ferris) debut novel introduces an unforgettable character, Mona—almost twenty-four, emotionally adrift, and cleaning houses to get by. Handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she falls for a recipient she calls Mr. Disgusting, who proceeds to break her heart in unimaginable ways.
In search of healing, Mona decamps to Taos, New Mexico, for a fresh start, where she finds a community of seekers and cast-offs, all of whom have one or two things to teach her—the pajama-wearing, blissed-out New Agers, the slightly creepy client with peculiar tastes in controlled substances, the psychic who might really be psychic. But always lurking just beneath the surface are her memories of growing up in a chaotic, destructive family from which she’s trying to disentangle herself, and the larger legacy of the past she left behind.
The story of Mona’s journey to find her place in this working-class American world is at once hilarious and wonderfully strange, true to life and boldly human, and introduces a stunningly one-of-a-kind new voice in American fiction.
Beagin’s novel, released earlier this month, is one of the most anticipated literary debuts of the year. Beagin won the prestigious Whiting Award before the book was published and it’s topping What’s Hot lists all over the place.
Kirkus Reviews said: “What gives this novel its heart is Beagin’s capacity for seeing: As Mona cleans peoples’ homes, we learn that the wealthy, well-dressed, superior individuals who pay her to scrub their toilets are just as messed up as the addicts and prostitutes and gamblers she encounters outside of work. This is not a new theme, of course, but Beagin makes it fresh with her sly, funny, compassionate voice. This is a terrific debut.”
If you are a man and you want to be a writer, you have two things you must do: 1. Write a book; and 2. Look more like Ernest Hemingway. That is the curriculum. When aged, experienced folks in the publishing industry ask young writers, “Have you read Hemingway,” they are really asking if you have fully embraced the possibility of facial hair. If you can grow a beard, have you tried growing his beard? If you cannot grow a beard like Hemingway’s, then that’s fine too. Your author photo will just be seriously lacking.
If you need inspiration on how to style your facial vegetation, or you want fuel for your imagination of what a beard might look like on your hairless face, then look no further than these literary greats.
1. Mark Twain
I also don’t know how he ate. | Image Via Biography
2. Friedrich Nietzche
I don’t think this even counts as a face. It’s 90% hair. | Image Via Encyclopedia Britannica
3. Michael Chabon
When you want to look like you don’t give a care, but you sneaky give many cares. | Image Via Pioneer Press
4. Walt Whitman
Tolkien’s inspiration for Radagast the Brown. | Image Via Social Justice For All
5. Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Rocking the neckbeard since 1821. Beat that, reddit. | Image Via The Arc of Grace
6. Herman Melville
For those who wish a box hung off their jaw. | Image Via Bio
7. William Faulkner
What you get when googling “debonair.” | Image Via Bio
8. Terry Pratchett
A beard as sharp as his wit. | Image Via Humanists UK
9. Patrick Rothfuss
That beard is older than me. | Image Via Wikipedia
Ursula K. Le Guin, prolific fantasy author best known for writing The Earthsea Cycle and The Hainish Cycle, passed away yesterday in her home in Portland, Oregon, at age eighty-eight. Le Guin is widely regarded as the greatest fantasy writer of her generation, and one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time, akin, some would say, to Tolkien, Lewis or any of the other leading world-builders.
Le Guin, rightfully, had an absolutely enormous fanbase, including some of the most famous authors alive, including Stephen King, Michael Chabon, and Neil Gaiman.
King tweeted, calling Le Guin a ‘literary icon.’
Usula K. LeGuin, one of the greats, has passed. Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon. Godspeed into the galaxy.
Later, Gaiman composed a heartfelt tribute to the author, linking a video of himself presenting LeGuin with a lifetime achievement award.
I just learned that Ursula K. Le Guin has died. Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul. I miss her as a glorious funny prickly person, & I miss her as the deepest and smartest of the writers, too. Still honoured I got to do this: https://t.co/U4mma5pJMw
I’m so sad about Ursula LeGuin. She was one of the writers who made me, and made a path of light for me to follow. Her work is still going to shine, but I do think a great many people must have paused today, uncertain, in the sudden dark.
Margaret Atwood wrote this moving tribute to Le Guin for The Guardian, referring to her as “one of the literary greats,” and commenting that “her sane, committed, annoyed, humorous, wise and always intelligent voice is much needed now.”
Ursula K. Le Guin touched the lives of millions and the depth and distance of her reach is undeniable. She will be deeply missed by everyone in the literary world.