Melissa Bank obituary (62 yo)

Oct 11, 1960 - Aug 02, 2022


9 months ago · Authors · 121

Her tale collection “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” her first book, has been translated into dozens of languages and has sold greater than 1.Five million copies.

Melissa Bank, a witty, acerbic creator whose first e-book, “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” have become a worldwide publishing phenomenon in 1999, died on Tuesday at her domestic in East Hampton, N.Y. She became 61.

Her sister, Margery Bank, said the motive become lung most cancers.

Ms. Bank’s fulfillment was no longer precisely an in a single day one. She spent 12 years writing the book, a collection of stories, in component due to the fact a bicycle twist of fate had left her briefly not able to jot down. A day activity as a copywriter for a massive advertising firm stored her busy as nicely.

But after the identify story become published in 1998 in Zoetrope: All Story, a literary magazine started via the director Francis Ford Coppola, Ms. Bank became the buzziest unpublished creator in America. She soon had an agent, and a bidding war began, which Viking Press won, over eight other publishers, paying a $275,000 strengthen (the equal of approximately $475,000 nowadays) — a sum rare for a first-time fiction writer and almost unheard-of for a debut series of short stories.

The buildup was justified: “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” nearly without delay made The New York Times’s great-supplier listing, where it stayed for months. Mr. Coppola optioned it for a film. It was translated into dozens of languages and offered greater than 1.5 million copies.

The seven linked testimonies in “The Girls’ Guide” revolve round a lady named Jane Rosenal and her coming-of-age over two decades, from age 14 until her mid-30s, at some stage in which she navigates sex, death, money and friends. Jane is sharp, independent and bitingly funny — no longer not like Ms. Bank herself.

In one tale, after Jane tells her older lover, an editor, that she has misplaced her task, he suggests that she come paintings for him.

“I may want to carry you up on fees for that,” she says.


“Work harassment within the sexual place.”

Despite the fact that critics compared her spare, exacting language to that of any variety of male writers, inclusive of Hemingway and Salinger — The Los Angeles Times referred to as it “like John Cheever, best funnier” — her e-book was fast corralled into the growing herd of female-targeted fiction derisively categorized “chick lit.”

Given the moment, inside the move-girl late Nineteen Nineties, perhaps it changed into inevitable. “Ally McBeal” changed into a success for Fox. “Sex and the City” debuted on HBO in 1998, the equal yr Helen Fielding’s novel “Bridget Jones’ Diary” was posted.

Reviewers and lovers eagerly tied Ms. Bank’s ebook to Ms. Fielding’s; the 2 even seemed on a panel together on the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, entitled “What Single Women Want.”

Discerning critics, though, saw extra difference than similarity, in particular in Ms. Bank’s potential to convey generosity and sympathy.

“Fielding’s novel became a satirical, one-joke stunt,” Rebecca Mead wrote in The New Yorker in 1999. “Bank’s is a much extra subtle piece of labor, which achieves even greater than it pursuits to.”

Ms. Bank observed “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” with a further linked set of testimonies, “The Wonder Spot,” in 2005. It did not promote nearly in addition to “The Girls’ Guide,” but many critics taken into consideration it a far higher e-book.

“‘The Wonder Spot’ is my best book,” Hadley Freeman wrote in The Guardian in 2020. “The tone is ideal, the tales are perfect, the characters are best and each word, apparently so casually chosen, is perfect.”

Melissa Susan Bank became born on Oct. Eleven, 1960, in Boston and raised in Elkins Park, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Her father, Arnold Bank, changed into a neurologist, and her mother, Joan (Levine) Bank, became a trainer.

Along along with her sister, she is survived through her brother, Andrew Bank, and her longtime associate, Todd Dimston.

Ms. Bank attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., graduating with a diploma in American research in 1982. She received an M.F.A. From Cornell in 1987.

She commenced writing what have become “The Girls’ Guide” soon after leaving Cornell. She wrote in the evenings, turning down promotions at paintings to preserve her time and innovative electricity. She showed early promise, prevailing the Nelson Algren Literary Award brief-story competition in 1993.

But her paintings became slowed while a automobile hit her bicycle in 1994, sending her flying ahead. She landed on her head with sufficient pressure to crack her helmet in half of. The aftereffects of a concussion left her suffering for phrases, in speech and writing, for approximately years.

She managed to post some testimonies, and shortly caught the attention of Adrienne Brodeur, the editor of Zoetrope. Mr. Coppola had requested Ms. Brodeur to commission a story gambling off the success of “The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right,” by means of Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, a popular self-help e-book published in 1995.

The resulting tale with the aid of Ms. Bank, in which her man or woman Jane follows and then discards a thinly veiled version of “The Rules,” raised the profiles of both the fledgling Zoetrope and the author. Editors and dealers commenced calling, and she or he scrambled to bring together a manuscript.

“I simply don't forget sitting right down to study Melissa’s manuscript in the same way that I sat right down to read out all of my submissions,” Carole DeSanti, the editor who obtained the ebook for Viking, said in a cellphone interview. “And I, to this second, recall where I turned into sitting. The chair I changed into sitting in my condo on the time, and the reality that I didn’t rise up because I just felt like I become inside the presence of a voice that became doing some thing so distinctive and so arresting and had performed it so carefully.”

Two of the testimonies from the e-book had been adapted into the 2007 movie “Suburban Girl,” starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.

Though it became explicitly a piece of fiction, Ms. Bank admitted that “The Girls’ Guide” drew on aspects of her own lifestyles: Like Jane, she grew up with an overbearingly perfect family, and each their fathers died early, from leukemia. The book’s repute changed into such that gossip columnists made a quick sport of trying to seek out the real human beings at the back of her characters.

Following the fulfillment of “The Girls’ Guide,” Ms. Bank started out teaching on the Southampton Writers Conference on Long Island, and later in the M.F.A. Program at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University.

She endured to jot down after publishing “The Wonder Spot.” She had a contract to provide any other e book for Viking, which she became running on till shortly before her death.

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Jan 01 2022, 12:00