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Obit: John Leonard, critic, Nov. 2008

Acme 07 Nov 08 - 12:14 PM
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Subject: Obit: John Leonard, critic, Nov. 2008
From: Acme
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 12:14 PM

John Leonard has died. His was a voice many of you will recognize from his intelligent and well-spoken pieces on various programs such as CBS Sunday Morning and on radio's Fresh Air, among others.

His AP Obit says:

    NEW YORK (AP) — Literary and cultural critic John Leonard, an early champion of Nobel Prize-winning authors Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez who was so consumed and informed by books that Kurt Vonnegut once praised him as "the smartest man who ever lived," died Wednesday. He was 69.

    Leonard died at Mount Sinai Hospital from complications from lung cancer, his stepdaughter, Jen Nessel, said Thursday.

    A former union activist and community organizer, Leonard was an emphatic liberal whose career began in the 1960s at the conservative National Review and continued at countless other publications, including The New York Times, The New Republic, The Nation and The Atlantic Monthly. He was also a TV critic for New York magazine, a columnist for Newsday and a commentator for CBS Sunday Morning.

    Leonard had the critic's most fortunate knack of being ahead of his time. He was the first major reviewer to assess Morrison's fiction and the first major American critic to write about Marquez. As the literary director for radio station KPFA in Berkeley, Calif., Leonard featured the commentary of Pauline Kael, before she became famous as a film critic for The New Yorker. Leonard was also an early advocate of Mary Gordon, Maxine Hong Kingston and other women writers.

    Leonard's own books included Black Conceit, This Pen for Hire and Lonesome Rangers: Homeless Minds, Promised Lands, Fugitive Cultures.

New York Magazine John Leonard Archive


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Mudcat time: 14 August 10:15 AM EDT

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