Olivia Goldsmith, author of The First Wives Club has died due to complications from a facelift:
The 54-year-old writer, whose real name was Justine Rendal, had been in a deep coma for more than a week caused by a reaction to an anaesthetic while she was having plastic surgery.
She died last night at the Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan after failing to regain consciousness during an operation at a clinic on 7 January to remove skin from under her neck.
(Thanks to Matt for the link.)
All because of an image, all because of a stinkin’ author photo, all because we still judge books by their back covers rather than their innards, and all because civilization cannot stop pestering, whether deliberately or subconsiously, the older, the fatter, the more wrinkled, the more infirm, the non-Caucasian, and anybody else who doesn’t fall into the harsh physical virtues dictated by Vanity Fair and People. Olivia Goldsmith’s death isn’t just a terribly premature end for a writer who was fun. It also shows that ideals have spiraled completely out of control. Or perhaps it just confirms them.
Goldsmith’s death did not have to happen. And yet it did. And the publishing industry, with concerns of gloss and glamour, won’t stop perpetuating these shameful conditions. It will continue defaulting to the purty lil gals (Nell Freudenberger) or the hot young things (Zoe Trope), rather than the magic of the offerings. This is nothing less than a goddam tragedy. Because we lose authors like Goldsmith in the process.
I don’t know. According to the article linked above, Goldsmith had already made five millions pounds from her first book. I can’t imagine she was feeling much pressure to sell with her face. I agree that our society is fixated on youth and beauty, sure, and that’s something we all have to come to terms with, no matter what our profession. But I wouldn’t blame the publishing industry in this particular case. Hell, writing may be one of the only jobs you can do in your pajamas.