Longtime NPR literary contributor Alan Cheuse died Friday of the injuries he suffered two weeks in a car crash in Northern California. In addition to his appearances on NPR over the past 25 years, Cheuse taught creative writing at George Mason University in Virginia led fiction workshops at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in California. He was driving from the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop in Nevada City to Santa Cruz when he the crash occurred on Highway 17.
Members of the Squaw Valley writers community took to Facebook today to express their fondness for Cheuse. "Rest in peace, Alan Cheuse. The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley will be a less interesting place without you," Martin J. Smith, the author and editor of the Orange Coast Magazine, posted this afternoon.
From today's NPR obituary:
Cheuse spent more than 25 years with NPR, contributing book reviews, profiles and commentary to All Things Considered, and lending his voice to online pieces, as well. During that time, he penned five novels of his own — the most recent of which, Prayers for the Living, was published this year.
As poet Robert Pinsky notes, Cheuse became a trusted voice for his peers much earlier than his work began with NPR in the 1980s. Pinsky met Cheuse when they were still in their teens, and the two studied together at Rutgers University, where Cheuse received his Ph.D. in 1974. He says that even while Cheuse was a student, tenured faculty would come to him for recommendations.
"He was the first, he was the first really impressive young writer I saw. We lived in a period when many great writers were alive. Alan was for me and many other people a guide to a very exciting world," Pinsky says.
"Alan embodied the spirit of ambitious, far-ranging writing that characterized modernist writing at the time," he adds.
"On behalf of the family, we are in deep grief at the loss of our beloved father, husband and grandfather," one of his daughters, Sonya Cheuse, told NPR. "He was the brightest light in our family. He will always remain in our hearts. We thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support."