Writer Harry Crews had a hard life and didn't make it any easier for the characters in his novels. He died Wednesday at age 76. Fresh Air remembers the Southern novelist with excerpts from a 1988 interview.
Novelist Barry Hannah died earlier this week. A native of Mississippi, Hannah won the William Faulkner Prize for his 1972 novel Geronimo Rex. Today, we remember the Souther author, who appeared on Fresh Air in 2001.
Crime novelist James Crumley's detective tales were filled with sex, drugs, violence and profanity, and inspired comparisons to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, among others. Crumley died Sept. 17 in Missoula, Mont. He was 68.
Norman Mailer once wrote that before he was 17, he'd formed the desire to be a major writer. That wish certainly came true. One political campaign, two Pulitzer Prizes and an unprecedented level of controversy later, he became a literary grandee unlike any other. This interview originally aired on Oct. 8, 1991.
Grace Paley, an iconic and idiosyncratic American literary voice, died Wednesday. She was 84, and had battled breast cancer. Paley wrote short stories and poems, and much of her writing was inspired by the people she knew growing up in New York, the daughter of Russian Jews. Her first collection of stories, The Little Disturbances of Man: Stories of Men and Women at Love, was published in 1959. Her other collections included Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and Later in the Same Day.
Writer Kurt Vonnegut died Wednesday at the age of 84. His most famous book was the anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five; based on Vonnegut's own experiences in World War II, the book became a cultural touchstone at the height of popular protest against the war in Vietnam. In this archived interview, he talks to Terry Gross about writing, censorship, and the experience of war. Rebroadcast from May 13, 1986
Nicholas Proffitt, who covered the Vietnam War for Newsweek magazine and wrote the book Gardens of Stone, died Nov. 10 at age 63. Gardens of Stone was later made into a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This interview originally aired on May 25, 1987.
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer William Styron died Wednesday of pneumonia at the age of 81. Styron's books include Lie Down in Darkness, The Confessions of Nat Turner (which won the Pulitzer) and Sophie's Choice, which was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Meryl Streep. His memoir Darkness Visible detailed his struggles with depression and suicidal impulses. This interview originally aired on Sept. 19, 1990.
We remember fireman turned writer Larry Brown. He died last week. He was 53. At the age of 29, Brown decided to become an author, and taught himself fiction writing. He moved from short stories for motorcycle magazines to critically acclaimed works in literary journals to a novel, Dirty Work.
He died Monday at the age of 75. In 1964, his book Last Exit To Brooklyn, shocked readers with its salty language and explicit portrayal of prostitutes, thugs, ex-cons and striking dock workers along the Brooklyn waterfront in the 1950s. Selby's other books included The Room, Requiem for a Dream, The Willow Tree and Waiting Period. (This interview was originally broadcast on May 4, 1990.)