The End of Miss Jean Brodie

Muriel Spark has died. I considered her the greatest living writer of fiction in English, although I'm sure many would disagree. (There are too many great living writers.) She has a large and interesting oeuvre. A Far Cry from Kensington is such a fine and good novel, especially when read alongside Loitering with Intent. The strength of each protagonist can take your breath away along with the lack of attempt at anything grand. Painting small, she wrote large. Could anyone else have invented--some say borrowed from her own life though she disagreed--the pisseur de copie she excoriates in Loitering with Intent?

She wasn't a magical realistic writer, but in each of her novels, something tends to happen that defies explanation. It's often one brief moment or one element, although sometimes extends to the entire book. In Memento Mori, a group of aging people keeps receiving a call from an anonymous person who says, "Remember, you must die," a literal translation of the title. Each recipient claims a different voice has made the call. In Loitering with Intent, there is a strange collision between a novel the first-person narrator is writing and the behavior of her employer.

There's no better author to take up with because of the breadth and quality of her writing.

(If you'd like to see Wikipedia in action, view the history of Spark's entry. On news of her death, several registered Wikipedia users entered citations of her death date and city, changed references to the past tense from present about her work, and provided additional details.)