What does a blogger do when author appearances end for the holidays, and won’t resume until January? Since I’m in Ohio, and not in Arizona, I don’t often do events for The Poisoned Pen. That doesn’t mean I’m going to “overlook” a book I appreciated this year. It’s too late for you to get it for the holidays because it has to be special ordered, but a few of you might find this one as intriguing as I do.
Overlooked: A Celebration of Remarkable, Underappreciated People Who Broke the Rules and Changed the World is by Amisha Padnanti and the Obituaries Desk of The New York Times. It can be ordered through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/4aB9sCH
Here’s my description of the book.
When Padnani joined the obituaries team at The New York Times as an editor in 2016, she questioned the obituaries that never appeared. “Where were the women, the people of color, and the LGBTQ and disabled communities who made history?’ Padnani and the team delved into the archives, and uncovered surprises. The New York Times never ran an obituary for Sylvia Plath. Of course, there are so many women scientists whose obituaries went unpublished, their contributions ignored. In 2018, the newspaper began to run “Overlooked”, a history series that tells the stories of those people whose obituaries didn’t run in the paper, although they deserved recognition.
I was totally captivated by this book, and read every story. But, there were also some small bits that added to the book. At the end of each section, there was a sidebar. One covered “The Evolution of Obituaries”. One was about the newspaper’s morgue. In addition, each obituary is signed and there’s a couple sentences about the author of that piece, sentences that give enough detail to show why the author wrote about the deceased, why they were interested in their subject.
Of course, I found some pieces more interesting that others. Emma Gatewood was the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail alone, but she had already survived so much in her life. Margaret Gipsy Moth was a CNN camera operator who spent much of her career in war zones. Some of us who were fans of the group The Monkees remember that Mike Nesmith’s mother, Bette Nesmith Graham, invented Liquid Paper. Of course, I found Alan Turing’s obituary interesting. It’s hard to believe the newspaper didn’t publish his obituary. And, I already mentioned Syliva Plath.
Fascinating stories and photos. If you enjoy a brief glimpse into history, or are intrigued by obituaries, as I am, you might want to pick up Overlooked.