filmed in 2010
Gary Paulsen died suddenly in the middle of October. He was in his early 80s. For reasons that I’m unable to understand, I did not become aware of his death (despite being online every day) until this past weekend. The following obituaries will be added to, as major ones appear. His memoir, Gone To The Woods, was an ACHUKA Book of the Day at the start of the year.
from the Publishers Weekly obit.:
David Levithan, publisher and editorial director at Scholastic, provided a favorite anecdote: “The very first time in my Scholastic career I was interviewed by the New York Times, I spent most of my time raving about Gary Paulsen’s Soldier’s Heart, which is not a Scholastic book. I just loved it so much that I had to talk about it. When we repackaged his backlist here, I happily stepped in and found that when I had a question for him, I often got a response from his agent like, ‘I’m afraid he’s away on a boat for a few weeks. There’s no way to get in touch with him.’ Which felt right. Finally, at one loud, crowded convention dinner, he came up to me out of the blue, said, ‘My agent told me I should meet you,’ then led me out to a balcony where we could talk. It’s something I’ll always remember. I feel generations of readers learned from Gary’s books how their lives intersect and interact both with the natural world and the tides of history. Many were not published by Scholastic, but our company got them into the hands of millions of kids through our book clubs and book fairs, where he’s been a favorite author for decades, and will be for many decades to come.”
quoted in the LA Times obit.:
“The need to write hit me like a brick. I had a career and a family and a house and a retirement plan and I did all the things that responsible grown-ups do until suddenly, irrevocably, I knew had to write,” he explained in the introduction to the “Hatchet” anniversary edition. “I edited a grubby men’s magazine and, every night, I slaved over short stories and articles for two editors who ripped me to shreds every morning.
“They didn’t leave a single sentence unscathed, but they taught me to write clean and fast. And the dance with words gave me a joy and a purpose I had been looking for my entire life.”
From a recommended New York Times author profile back in 2006:
Mr. Paulsen is an unapologetic misanthrope, children excepted. “I don’t have anything against individuals,” he says. “But the species is a mess.”