Iconic Japanese Designer Kenji Ekuan, 85

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“Mr. Ekuan was a prolific and widely lauded designer whose work shaped products closely associated with modern Japan, including Yamaha motorcycles and a bullet train used in the country’s Shinkansen high-speed rail network. He was also an evangelist for a potent national ethos, combining pacifism and materialism, which Japan embraced after the devastation of World War II.”

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Why Jon Stewart Is Leaving “The Daily Show”

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“Yesterday’s announcement … is jolting, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Last fall, on the eve of his writing-directing feature-film debut, Stewart openly wrestled with how much longer he wanted to keep doing the TV show that made him famous. It wasn’t hard to see which way he was leaning.”

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Grant Strate, 87, Elder Statesman Of Canadian Dance

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“Strate was a charter member of the National Ballet of Canada in 1951 and later its first resident choreographer. … In 1970, Strate went on to found York University’s department of dance, the first of its kind in Canada. Rejecting preconceived notions, he forged a vision focused on creative research and the concept of the ‘thinking dancer.'”

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André Brink, Literary Lion And Anti-Apartheid Activist, Dead At 79

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“The 79-year-old author, perhaps best known for his 1979 novel A Dry White Season which focused on the death in detention of a black activist and was filmed with Marlon Brando, was a literature professor at the University of Cape Town and had just received an honorary doctorate from the Université Catholique de Louvain.”

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What’s On Author Anne Tyler’s Nightstand?

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“I keep only a New Yorker on my night stand, which I do my best to eke out over the space of an entire week. It distresses me that The New Yorker publishes just 47 issues a year, which makes the eking-out process a mathematical challenge.”

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The World’s Biggest Movie Superstar – Most Americans Have Never Heard Of Him

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“Given that Bollywood films are watched by a global three billion people, Amitabh Bachchan has a good claim to be the most famous actor in the world. In India, he has long transcended his day job to become a national institution, Brando, Pacino and De Niro rolled into one. Across Asia and the Middle East, [he] gets mobbed in the streets.”

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Whatever Happened To Henry Winkler (Whom We Won’t Call The Fonz)? He Became A Dyslexia Activist

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His own case – undiagnosed at the time – of the learning disability was so severe that he just barely managed to complete high school; he only discovered the reason when his son was diagnosed with the same condition. Since then, he has traveled the world as advocate – and co-written 28 children’s books (so far) about a boy struggling with dyslexia.

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Harper Lee Can Barely See Or Hear, But She Can Still Think, Says Friend

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“Does she understand what’s going on? If you make her hear, she can understand what’s going on. Can she give informed consent? Absolutely, she can give informed consent. She knows what she likes, who she likes, what she doesn’t like. Mainly, she doesn’t like people to disturb her and interrupt her privacy and probe in her personal business.”

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Why It Took Harper Lee 55 Years To Publish A Second Book

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The extraordinary career – or perhaps non-career – of Harper Lee bears witness to a quite different way of conducting a writing life. She wrote one novel, an immediate classic and perhaps the best-selling novel of the 20th century, To Kill a Mockingbird. Since its publication in 1960, Lee has published no other book.

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A Window Into Jane Austen’s World, Through The Letters Of Her Mother’s Family

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“The Huntington Library in California has acquired 52 unpublished letters, poems and other material from six generations of the Leigh family. Austen’s mother was Cassandra Leigh, and the novelist visited her Leigh family in Adlestrop several times, with some believing that the setting of Mansfield Park is partly drawn from the Gloucestershire village.”

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Pedro Lemebel, 62, Chile’s Writer/Performance Artist/Activist/”Poor Old Queen”

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He died Friday morning. “By the afternoon, newspapers in Latin America and Spain teemed with tributes. In his native Santiago, hundreds gathered for his funeral on Saturday, and celebrities and politicians competed to offer the most extravagant praise. … This is a surreal end for a writer who called himself a ‘queen’ (una loca) and ‘a poor old faggot’ (un marica pobre y viejo).”

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Chicago Music Critic Andrew Patner, 55

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“Patner’s sharp commentary and criticism, found in two weekly WFMT programs, ranged widely, from classical music and opera to theater, dance, visual art, books and films. He also contributed articles to numerous publications, including Art & Antiques, The New Yorker, Christian Science Monitor and New Art Examiner.”

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Pianist Aldo Ciccolini Dead At 89

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“A passionate champion of French composers, he recorded more than 50 albums, mostly of French repertoire, and along the way championed many underrepresented French composers, especially Erik Satie.”

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Geraldine McEwan Was Miss Marple (And Miss Jean Brodie As Well)

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The actress – whose death at age 82 trended on Twitter – had a career that “spanned decades on the small screen and in theatre and films, including box office hits such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring as the witch Mortiana. She won a Bafta for best actress in 1991 for her role in the TV serial of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.”

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Conductor Dies After Heart Attack Onstage

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“The 59-year-old was conducting at a concert given by a Swiss youth orchestra in Lucerne, when he fell dramatically to the ground. An audience member rushed to his aid, but the musician died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.”

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Rod McKuen, 81, Poet And Songwriter

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“[He was] the husky-voiced ‘King of Kitsch’ whose avalanche of music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ’70s overwhelmed critical mockery and made him an Oscar-nominated songwriter and one of the best-selling poets in history.”

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“Thorn Birds” Author Colleen McCullough Dies at 77

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“The Thorn Birds, which has never been out of print, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 20 languages. In hardcover, it spent more than a year on the New York Times best-seller list; the paperback rights were sold at auction for $1.9 million, a record at the time.”

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Such A Stoic: How Seneca Became Ancient Rome’s Philosopher-Fixer

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“Even in imperial Rome, matricide was, apparently, bad P.R. … And so Nero turned to the man he had always relied on … The letter ‘explaining’ Agrippina’s murder is just one of the ways Seneca propped up Nero’s regime – a regime that the average Julius, let alone the author of De Ira, surely realized was thoroughly corrupt. How to explain the philosopher-tutor’s sticking by his monstrous pupil?”

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