Obits: Closing the Book on Axel Rosin

March 29th, 2007 by Larry Smith

220152230_cd1a2e4d5f_m.jpgOne of the storytelling games we like to play is writing six-word memoirs based on interesting obituaries—call it a dark mash-up. Today I read about the life of Axel Rosin, who for years ran the Book-of-the-Month Club (now Bookspan). Book-of-the-Month is a concept that might sound lowbrow and crass to many of us who feel highbrow and cultured. I confess I thought of it that way until about 10 minutes ago when I read this excerpt from Dennis Hevesis’ version of Rosin’s life story in The New York Times:

Mr. Rosin’s father-in-law, Harry Scherman, started the company in 1926 with the idea that even people living in remote areas with no access to bookstores or libraries could line their shelves with the latest, best books, at reduced prices. Under Mr. Rosin’s leadership, membership reached 1.25 million and annual sales doubled to $65 million.

For Mr. Rosin, who lived for 99 years, we offer this short, short life story: Oprah had nothing on Axel Rosin. But you can definitely come up with something better. Leave a comment with your six words on this book man’s life.

See also: an NPR interview with the author of The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, Marilyn Johnson’s book that celebrates several of her favorite obit writers, as well as the art and culture of the obit itself. Still with us? Then you’ll want to check out Obit, a new magazine that the Boston Globe says is banking on the eyeballs of the endlessly narcissistic baby boomers.

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