Having made a name for herself penning memorable obituaries for the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis, and Johnny Cash for Life and other magazines, Marilyn Johnson takes a fascinating look back at the experience in The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries.
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Briarcliff, New York
Place of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
B.A., University of Pennsylvania; M.A., University of New Hampshire
Marilyn Johnson's official web site
|2006 Discover Award Finalist|
|The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries|
"A fetching book about obituaries? Well, yes: Ms. Johnson writes about obituaries with the zeal -- and insight -- of an avid obit fan, someone who looks at half a dozen newspapers a day and spends hours online, Googling death, reading posts on the alt.obituaries newsgroup, and posting favorite obits of her own," observes Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times about Johnson's fascinating work.
Read an excerpt
|A Writer's Rituals|
|"I work wherever and whenever I can," Johnson tells us in our interview. "I write on the computer, in little notebooks and on index cards and the backs of bank receipts. I start writing reviews on the inside covers of the books I’m reviewing. If I wait 'til I get to my desk, it would never get done. My only ritual is my fuel: a cup of strong English breakfast tea with milk."|
In our interview, we asked Johnson to tell us about her favorite books, and Ian Frazier's Great Plains made her list. "Frazier surprised me on all levels, taught me the pleasures of taking a fresh look at your surroundings, and showed me how fluid and inventive a book could be," she explains.
|One Hundred Years of Solitude|
Gabriel García Márquez, Gregory Rabassa
One Hundred Years of Solitude and Milan Kundera's Book of Laughter and Forgetting "are novels that woke me up, both to the world and to the possibilities in writing," Johnson reflects. Read our interview to learn about more of her best-loved books, including: