Mameve Medwed, novelist with “irrepressible sense of humor”, dies at 79

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Ms Medwed, critic and essayist whose seven witty novels included ‘Mail’ and ‘How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life’, died at the Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln on Sunday of metastatic lung cancer .

She was 79 years old and had lived for many years in Cambridge, the homeland of many of her fictional characters.

“It’s a novel as delicious as its title, and a wonderful antidote if you’re slightly down, looking for something to sink into on a snowy day or, like its heroine, have been sweaty since Friday night and so on. ‘Now is Sunday afternoon, “Globe critic Roberta Silman wrote in 2006 on” How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life “.

Silman warned that readers should not “be fooled by Ms. Medwed’s light touch and irrepressible sense of humor,” and the author herself has extended this advice to all writers whose work puts a smile on their face. people.

“I’d love to do a little campaign for the comedy novel, because I always feel like the people who write funny stuff are kind of considered, you know, light – light – and relegated to the table. children, ”she said in the 2015 interview. “All of us who write comedies deal with the same things that the deep, heavy, dark people who gaze into the abyss: love, friendship, death, grief, all of those things. We just look at it in a biased way.

Born in Bangor, Maine, on December 9, 1942, Mameve Stern was sometimes referred to as “Bangor’s other novelist” – as in The Non-Stephen King.

Her characters sometimes resided in her native country, and Ms. Medwed’s life during these years provided rich material for her autobiographical essays, some of which were published in The Globe.

In 2011, she wrote a sort of eulogy for the planned closure of The Coffee Pot, a famous sandwich shop in Bangor.

“Proust might have had his madeleine, but we had this store’s signature submarine sandwich – so the signature of the sandwich became known simply as the coffee maker,” she wrote in The Globe.

Ms Medwed “was in person precisely who she was on the page,” said Stacy Schiff, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of “Vera (Ms Vladimir Nabokov)” and a longtime friend. “She was immeasurably modest, so infallibly charming and generous.”

“My mother was like her handwriting – beautiful and elegant and larger than life,” said Ms Medwed’s son Daniel, who lives in Cambridge.

Ms Medwed’s husband Howard Medwed passed away in 2019.

Besides Daniel, she leaves her other son, Jonathan of New York; her sister, Robie Rogge of New York; and four grandchildren.

A memorial gathering to celebrate the life and work of Ms. Medwed will be announced.

Although known and praised for the humor that creeps into almost everything she writes, Ms Medwed, who taught writing for many years at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, insisted it wasn’t was not the plan every time she started.

“When I started writing I was very serious, I didn’t mean to be funny, and it just goes like that,” she said in an interview with Deborah Kalb who was published online in January. “And we all need humor, especially now. It’s just my way of writing.

A full obituary will follow.


Bryan Marquard can be reached at [email protected]


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