Tuesday, March 15, 2016

hotel du lack of pulse

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble, kill off writers at the double. Hot on the heels (and upturned toes) of Umberto Eco, the latest (and, unless I've overlooked anyone, thirteenth) novelist to succumb to the fearsome destructive power of the Curse of Electric Halibut is Anita Brookner, author of 20-odd slim novels including, most famously, Hotel Du Lac, winner of the Booker Prize in 1984. It was that novel's appearance here back in July 2011 (one of four books I read on my honeymoon in Canada) that roused the Grim Reaper from one of his various chess games and set him off on a leisurely pursuit that eventually ended last week after just over four-and-a-half years.

Author Date of first book Date of death Age Curse length
Michael Dibdin 31st January 2007 30th March 2007 60 0y 59d
Beryl Bainbridge 14th May 2008 2nd July 2010 77 2y 50d
Russell Hoban 23rd August 2010 13th December 2011 86 1y 113d
Richard Matheson 7th September 2011 23rd June 2013 87 2y 291d
Elmore Leonard April 16th 2009 20th August 2013 87 4y 128d
Iain Banks 6th November 2006 9th June 2013 59 7y 218d
Doris Lessing 8th May 2007 17th November 2013 94 7y 196d
Gabriel García Márquez 10th July 2007 17th April 2014 87 7y 284d
Ruth Rendell 23rd December 2009 2nd May 2015 85 5y 132d
James Salter 4th February 2014 19th June 2015 90 1y 136d
Henning Mankell 6th May 2013 5th October 2015 67 2y 152d
Umberto Eco 30th June 2012 19th February 2016 84 3y 234d
Anita Brookner 15th July 2011 10th March 2016 87 4y 240d

So, as with Eco, the overall stats aren't going to be affected much here, since the typical cursed novelist dies in their mid-80s after four years or so. There is an interesting statistical oddity whereby 87 is the most popular age for the curse to take effect - no fewer than four novelists on the list (Matheson, Leonard, Márquez, Brookner) succumbed at that age (no other number appears more than once). There's one at 84, one at 85 and one at 86 as well, so mid-eighties is definitely a danger zone. Then again that's true of non-cursed non-novelists as well.

Here's another of those long, meandering Paris Review interviews, this one appears to be from 1987.

No comments: