"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"

"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Charles M. Young

Journalist -- via Rolling Stone. A very funny and vibrant writer! Here's a link to his classic story about the Sex Pistols, "Rock is Sick and Living in London," from Rolling Stone of Oct. 20, 1977.

Candida Lycett Green

Writer and journalist -- via the Guardian.

Samīħ al-Qāsim

Poet -- via Asharq al-Awsat.

Imogen Bain

Actor -- via The Stage.

Jerome Ehlers

Actor and writer -- via Film Link.

FRIDAY BOOK REVIEW: 'The Long Goodbye'

The Long Goodbye: A Memoir
Meghan O’Rourke
Riverhead Books
New York

“If the condition of grief is universal, its transactions are exquisitely personal.” This statement, with its somewhat Tolstoyan echoes, perfectly captures the spirit of the author’s narrative of her mother’s decline and death, and the year following it, in “The Long Goodbye.” This painfully honest and eloquent account is well worth reading on its own merits.

This is not expiation, or a dispassionate self-observation. As O’Rourke observes, mourners enter a special kind of separate reality, one that often makes others uncomfortable and awkward. Her prodigious and detailed collection of memories, reactions, reflections – self-destructive, enlightened, baffled, supportive, and combative – it’s all here.

Given that I lost my mother almost two years ago to a debilitating cancer similar to that suffered by O’Rourke’s mother, the parallels are striking. Hearing from a writer whose feelings echo mine validates them immensely. The author’s clear and direct voice brings new insights, explodes myths that make mourners feel inadequate (the Five Stages of Grief? Real life is not so orderly), and makes human a process that is usually conceptualized as elevated and somehow sacred.

It’s particularly interesting to be given access to the unique challenges of losing a same-sex parent – the overlap and transmission of identity. “The Long Goodbye” is no therapeutic exercise, but a patch of biography, a passage that is endured but not conveniently completed by book’s end. That O’Rourke has the sense not to impose an artificial sense of closure is one of the book’s many virtues.

O’Rourke’s assessment of “Hamlet” in the book describes him as “radically dislocated, stumbling through the days while the rest of the world acts as if nothing important has changed.” Likewise, “The Long Goodbye” gives us an unflinching look at the derangement that a family death imposes . . . and how one person struggled through, back to the life of every day.

Simin Behbahani

Poet -- via the New York Times.

Madeleine Collinson

Model and actress -- via Brutal As Hell. With her twin sister Mary, was the centerpiece of the Hammer horror film "Twins of Evil." It's an absolutely ridiculous movie, and of course one of my favorites.

Edward G. Leffingwell

John Blake Jr.

Outstanding jazz violinist -- via the New York Times.