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In memoriam

The world observed the passing of some important literary figures this week. One of those figures was J.D. Salinger, who died Wednesday, January 27. I didn’t read The Catcher in the Rye until college, and I am glad for that. If I had read it at an earlier age, I doubt I would have appreciated it as fully.

Robert B. Parker, whose forays into YA fiction in recent years produced The Boxer and the Spy and Chasing the Bear, died Monday, January 18, in Cambridge. I never read any of Mr. Parker’s books – YA or adult. However, those students who have read The Boxer and the Spy definitely enjoyed it. I have added both books to my TBR list.

The passing I am personally saddest about is Howard Zinn, who died Wednesday, January 27. Although he is most famous for his huge A People’s History of the United States, I favor his much slimmer, though equally powerful, memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. I reflect frequently on that book, and its philosophy. Mr. Zinn’s experiences and commitment to justice inspire me; whenever I am feeling frustrated or lost, I look to the bookshelf and see that title, and it reminds me again of the vitality of action.

I had hoped there would be more of Mr. Zinn’s work to read in the future. Fortunately, The New York Times wrote this obituary for Howard Zinn. In it, there is mention that Mr. Zinn penned three plays in addition to his works of history. I had no idea! So it looks as though my future holds multiple opportunities to delight in Mr. Zinn’s irreverent and inspiring voice.

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