Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thomas Berger Dead at 89

An underrated novelist has died. Thomas Berger, one of my favorites, is best known, I suppose, for Little Big Man, one of those rare examples of a very good book which was made into a very good movie. Both have a bit of the feel of Forrest Gump about them, to name something better known to most people, in that they're very picaresque — there's a good word for you.

I haven't read even half of Berger's output. I suppose my favorite so far is indeed Little Big Man, which, fans who don't know will be pleased to learn, was followed 35 years later by The Return of Little Big Man, which is a good read too. After those two, I suppose my favorite so far is Changing the Past, which is hard to fit into a genre. What Berger did in part, you see, was to try to write a good novel in every genre he could think of, and he pretty much succeeded.

If you're a fan of the novel, and haven't already done so, I recommend that you accumulate his books and put them on your to-read shelf.

His NY Times obit begins:

Thomas Berger, the reclusive and bitingly satirical novelist who explored the myths of the American West in “Little Big Man” and the mores of 20th-century middle-class society in a shelf of other well-received books, died on July 13 in Nyack, N.Y. He was 89.

His agent, Cristina Concepcion, said she learned of his death, at Nyack Hospital, on Monday. Mr. Berger lived in Grand View, a village in Rockland County, N.Y., where he had remained fiercely protective of his privacy.

Mr. Berger fell into that category of novelists whose work is admired by critics, devoured by devoted readers and even assigned in modern American literature classes but who owe much of their popularity to Hollywood. “Little Big Man,” published in 1964, is widely known for Arthur Penn’s film adaptation, released in 1970, starring Dustin Hoffman as the protagonist, Jack Crabb.

1 comment:

  1. I only read Little Big Man when I was 16 and it was one of my favorite novels for years.