Margalit Fox's riveting obituaries of the famous, the infamous and the just plain interesting are so newsy and entertaining, her subjects plump back to life as you read. In 2012, she wrote this about the founder of Cosmopolitan magazine:
"Helen Gurley Brown ...died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger."
Fox spent the first nine years at the Times as a copy editor, she said by phone from New York. But "her deepest desire was to write rather than cleaning up other people's copy."
So when a position in the obituary department came open, she applied, aware that it was considered to be the beat nobody wanted. "But it's the best beat at the paper," she said.
"We all love to be told stories, and an obit by definition is the purest narrative thing in any paper," Fox said. "I have the privilege of writing obits every day. It doesn't get any better than that."
Fox has two books: "The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code," about the history of the ancient Minoan B Code, and "Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals about the Mind."
She'll discuss "The Riddle" at 11 a.m., April 10, in CPCC's Pease Auditorium. At 7 that evening in Tate Hall, she'll talk about obituary writing.
Other speakers that week include N.C. Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti, and Richard Blanco, the youngest poet ever to be tapped to give the inaugural address (for President Barack Obama in 2013).