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Book News: 'It's Kind Of A Funny Story' Author Mourned

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Ned Vizzini, the author of It's Kind of a Funny Story,died last week at the age of 32. "The manner of death was suicide," the New York City medical examiner's office tells CNN. According to The New York Times, Vizzini's brother says he jumped off the roof of their parents' building. Wildly precocious, Vizzini began writing for the independent newspaper The New York Pressat age 15, and published his first book,Teen Angst? Naaah, at age 19. Vizzini was open about his long and painful history with depression. His best-known book, It's Kind of a Funny Story,is based on his time in the psychiatric ward of a Brooklyn hospital. Vizzini wrote on his website that Craig, the main character, "didn't get better as in 'his depression is cured.' He got better as in 'he's not going to consider suicide again.' He sorted out some (and only some) things in his life... like I did." Rachel Cohn, a coauthor of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, tells the Los Angeles Times, "it hurts that he succumbed to the very disease he'd done so much to educate readers about, and help them through." The writer Cecil Castellucci adds in a tribute in the Los Angeles Review of Booksthat: "Being a writer is a bit like being in a war sometimes. Careers are strange, with unexpected gains and losses. People are on your side until they're not. The blank page can feel like a battlefield. It's good to have an ally to talk it through with, and Ned Vizzini was the best kind of ally to have in that particular war. You wanted him in your literary trench."
  • writes about the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy: "I think of him as an old man wandering the familiar streets of an aging city ... I think of him as a lonely, provincial man who is fully aware of his provinciality, and who turns that knowledge into a kind of wisdom."
  • In a statement, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression argues that booksellers are free to sell The Anarchist Cookbook and Happy Happy Happy,two books that have come under fire in recent weeks. ABFFE President Chris Finan says that, "booksellers sell books, including books that some people find offensive. While booksellers make individual choices about what to sell, we believe our customers have a right to purchase any book that is protected by the First Amendment." Last week, the author of The Anarchist Cookbook,which includes instructions for making weapons, said that he wants his publisher to let it go out of print, after it emerged that the school shooter Karl Pierson had read it. Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynastystar and author of Happy Happy Happy,has been suspended from the show by A&E for his recent comments about homsexuality.

    The New York Times' Chuck Klosterman, also known as "The Ethicist," gives us all permission to read those leaked J.D. Salinger stories: "People want to read them for positive, nonexploitative reasons — intellectual curiosity and historical merit. The downside is that this process would annoy a guy who is no longer alive. Well, that's the price of genius. The work takes precedence over the man who made it."

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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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