Book News: Author Lloyd Alexander leaves a fantastic legacy
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Another well-loved author has died this year shortly after the death of Kurt Vonnegut in April.Lloyd Alexander
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He was Lloyd Alexander, best-known to young readers and their parents for three creative and perhaps prescient fantasy series -- "Westmark Trilogy," "The Chronicles of Prydain" and "Vesper Holly." He died Thursday.
These books, among the 40 he published, kindled a minor industry of fantasy fiction and inspired such authors as J.K. Rowling and Michael Chabon.
Chabon, whose new novel, "The Yiddish Policeman's Union," is riding high on best-seller lists, attributed the concept behind his 2002 "Summer Land," a baseball novel for young readers, to Alexander's writing.
"I got the idea after reading books to my daughter that I read when I was 9 or 10," he said in advance of a 2001 reading here.
"After rereading those favorites of mine to my daughter, I thought it might be fun to try and write one myself," he said. "It's really been a labor of love."
Alexander, a native of the Philadelphia area, was most active as a writer from the 1960s to the '80s. He was 83 when he died after completing a new book, "The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio," to be published in August.
I recall interviewing Alexander in 1986 and found him both courteous and intelligent, one of those "old school" fellows.
As for one of his progeny, Harry Potter, there's a frantic race on by the major booksellers to discount the final volume of Rowling's mega-hit series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" due out July 21.
The mammoth last gasp is 784 pages and priced at $34.95 by Scholastic, but the price has hit $17.99 on Amazon and Borders and $1 more at Barnes & Noble. These companies will have to push a lot of books to make money.
Another Harry factoid: The initial press run of 12 million is a record for Scholastic which cranked out a mere 10 million for "The Half-Blood Prince."
The local front
The Taproot Writer's Workshop has named the winners of its 20th writing contest. They are:
Rosilia Scalia, Baltimore, in fiction, and Ellen E. Hyatt, Summersville, S.C., in poetry.
Based in Ambridge, the writer's organization will present the winners and runners-up at a reading Aug. 4 at the Laughlin Memorial Library in that Beaver County town. The work will also be published in Taproot's Literary Review to appear in July.
The Make Your Mark gallery and coffeehouse, 6736 Reynolds St., Point Breeze, will hold poetry readings by Anita G. Byerly and Christine D. Michaels Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Poetry Society is sponsor of the free event.
Happy birthday to Rachel Carson
To mark the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birth here Sunday, faculty and students from her alma mater, now called Chatham University, plan a series of readings on Mount Washington.
Called "Nature Poetry and Prose in the Park: A Rachel Carson Birthday Celebration," the program will be at 4:30 p.m. at Grandview Park.
The free readings will be accompanied by a picnic.
First Published May 21, 2007 6:44 pm