God speed, Ruth Rendell

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Ruth Rendell died on May 2. She suffered a stroke back on January 7, and though she lasted for a while, she was unable to recover. That wasn’t entirely unexpected – she was 85-years-old.

I am an aspiring Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine complete-ist and hope to own first editions in all of her books. I only have a few at the moment but hopefully I have a few more decades to finish up.


I had started a Ruth Rendell discussion for this site. She was not only one of the best mystery writers ever to grace the genre, but she understood mental illness in a way no other writer has mastered nearly as well. I am writing about some of the mentally-ill characters Rendell created, among them the woman with contamination OCD in Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, the main character with borderline personality disorder in The Bridesmaid, and a host of afflicted characters in her short stories. The illnesses play an important role in her intricate but quite believable plots and it almost seems at times like Rendell wrote about mental illness in a way that could poke at my own mental ticks.  The protagonist in “You Can’t Be Too Careful” suffered from some sort of personality disorder and was obsessed with safety, orderliness, cleanliness and self-assumed duty.  She was constantly ruminating over locks, doors on latches, dusting books, cot beds.  When I was a kid, I had a pretty serious case of echolalia that I more or less grew out of but always lurks.  This short story set it off.  It was the repetition of “k” and “t”, I think.  I find myself saying, under my breath, book lock cot latch book lock…

I wonder if anyone else has this experience when they read this story?

At any rate, I will at some point finish and post the article.  Ruth Rendell really was one of the finest writers of her generation and genre and I feel somewhat stricken to know she is gone forever and that there will be no more books.  God speed, Baroness Rendell.

Godspeed, Iain

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Iain Banks lost his battle with gall bladder cancer today.  The Wasp Factory is one of the books most frequently mentioned to me as a book I should discuss on this site and it is an odd/sick book classic, a piece of dark genius.   Banks was an author who was truly sui generis and I hope when my time comes, I am able to go with the same black humor Banks showed at the end.

I felt a strange kinship with Banks because I know so few people in real life who never feel lonely.  He was raised an only child in a bookish home and as a result, he grew into an adult who never needed company because he was never at loose ends with himself and he didn’t feel the aching loneliness that seems so much a part of the lives of many people.  It’s a gift from the Universe to be given the sort of personality wherein one seldom if ever feels boredom or isolation from others.

Banks’ writing as Iain M. Banks informed a lot of how it is that I look at odd books.  It’s deeply saddening that he is gone.

Goodbye, Mr Bradbury

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

It seems fitting that a once-in-a-lifetime author would die on the day of a once-in-a-lifetime astrological event. Whatever called you home, be it the Venus transit or just reaching the end of your body’s usefulness, your life was spent creating words paralleled by none, worlds more fantastic and horrifying than we left here can create, and you deserve a nice, long rest. Godspeed, sir.

Joe Bageant, rest in peace, you redneck prince

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Joe Bageant, a humorous and kind man, has been taken by prostate cancer. He is not a particularly odd writer, but life cannot be lived through odd books alone. He discussed class in America in a way few are intellectually honest enough to understand, let alone relate.

One of the more awesome moments for me as I run this book blog of the damned is that Joe once left me a comment to one of my entries and sent me an e-mail with a PDF of his book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. He is a man I wish I had known better and whose small but gracious act gave me some sense that maybe I really do understand books, culture and social issues, despite the number of people online willing to tell me I don’t. I was deeply saddened hearing he has died. If you ever get the chance to read his books, especially Deer Hunting with Jesus, you should.