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Literary lament, famous authors pass away

By Corey Risinger and Kayla Miron

Barbara Park

Barbara Park with literary creation, Junie B.
Barbara Park with literary creation, Junie B.

“Only I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all,” Junie B. Jones famously exclaimed in Barbara Park’s children’s stories.

But on Friday, November 16th, the B in Junie B. Jones took on a new meaning: “bereft.” After 66 years, of adventures on smelly buses, Valentines day debacles in room one, and philosophical questions like the gargling in public, Junie B. and her interpreter, author Park, have left us. Random House Books for Young Readers, Park’s publisher, confirmed that the author lost her battle to Ovarian cancer, living with husband Richard in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Park, voted the “wittiest” in her high school superlatives, channeled her curiosity and mischievous spirit into the voice of her sassiest and most grammatically-entertaining protagonist. With more than 30 illustrated children’s books and journals, Park inspired thousands to read, to write, to take a chance on the excitement of school and interactions with those around them.

When asked about her ability to communicate so freely with a young audience, Park offered an explanation that epitomized her childlike brilliance.

“I’m not actually sure I’m grown up enough for grown-up books,” Park said.

After over a decade with Junie B., the ECHO encourages you to ponder the significance of the “B,” and of course, to revisit the mountains of Junie B. adventures that surely still hold a place on your miniature shelves.

Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing in the months before her death.
Doris Lessing in the months before her death.

Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing died on November 17th at the age of 96. Though she is the creator of numerous essays and shorter fictions, Lessing is best known for her 1962 novel “The Golden Notebook.”

In this famous work, protagonist Anna Wulf chronicles her life in segments, each topic being recorded in a different colored notebook. Only in the distinct golden notebook could Wulf integrate her experiences with analysis and understanding. Though often categorized as a feminist author, Lessing rejects the label, asserting “The Golden Notebook” deals with emotional distresses of life and war.

Raised in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Lessing was a great observer of the 20th century. She was also undoubtedly a character, refusing the title of “dame” from the Queen of England because of the lack of an English Empire and calling the nobel prize a “disaster” for her writing. Lessing, her astute perceptions, and of course, her commentary, will be greatly missed.

Louis D. Rubin Jr.

Louis D. Rubin Jr. at age 75.
Louis D. Rubin Jr. at age 75.

On November 16, Louis D. Rubin Jr, a southern literary giant, left many authors mentor-less three days shy of his 90th birthday. The writer, professor, publisher, veteran, painter and fisherman passed away in a Chatham County retirement community. After a career as a journalist, Rubin turned to academia. As a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Hollins University then UNC-Chapel Hill, Rubin dedicated himself to supporting his students and the literature of the South. His collection of essays “The Literary South” sparked the beginning of Southern literary criticism. When he co-founded Algonquin Books, a local publishing company, he created a space for lesser-known writers to thrive. His dedication to these rising writers stemmed from his love of teaching. Outwardly curmudgeonly, Rubin deeply cared for his students. He forged lifelong relationships with them and with the writers he supported. Many of these people will miss the man they came to view as a mentor.

“He had more than a touch of genius,” remarked Clyde Edgerton, a Southern writer mentored by Rubin.

Rubin also leaves behind a loving wife and two children in North Carolina.


Photos Courtesy of: The New York Times, The Huffington Post, NPR

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