Goodbye to our Friends

It is always sad when you have to say goodbye to members of your family or to your friends. Such is the case of Umberto Eco and Harper Lee. They became part of your routine with their books and they will be missed.

I was still young when I heard about this writer, Umberto Eco. It was in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where mom was living, and she had that book The Name of the Rose on her night table, when I had the chance to read him for the first time. Yes, my mom was a good reader and had bought that book that was kind of fashionable at the time, after the movie and all. As it usually happens I liked the book better and felt that I needed to follow him. He became as a brother or cousin and I bought his next book, Foucault´s Pendulum. As the years passed I had to do different things but I couldn´t forget this author. How could I? Now it seems easy to do but to write about medieval monks killing each other to protect or uncover a secret is, at the least, complex.

Harper Lee came to my life in a different way. I was still at the university and our literature teacher, Sheila Misdorp, told us to read To Kill a Mockingbird. I didn´t know about Harper Lee and I haven´t heard about the book and it was love at first sight, or reading. The book was incredible and I became friend with Harper. She interpreted what I wanted to do; she showed how to describe an episode in simple ways and that a writer could write about the things around him.

Umberto Eco (1932 – 2016) was an Italian novelist, essayist, literary critic, philosopher, and semiotician. He is best known for his groundbreaking 1980 historical mystery novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He later wrote other novels, including Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault's Pendulum) and L'isola del giorno prima (The Island of the Day Before). His novel Il cimitero di Praga (The Prague Cemetery), released in 2010, was a best-seller.

Nelle Harper Lee (1926 – 2016) was an American novelist widely known for To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. Immediately successful, it won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. Though Lee had only published this single book, in 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. She was also known for assisting her close friend Truman Capote in his research for the book In Cold Blood (1966). Capote was the basis for the character Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The plot and characters of To Kill a Mockingbird are loosely based on Lee's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old. The novel deals with the irrationality of adult attitudes towards race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s, as depicted through the eyes of two children. The novel was inspired by racist attitudes in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

To our friends, goodbye. Rest in Peace.

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