Egolf, Tristan 1971–2005

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Egolf, Tristan 1971–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 19, 1971, in San Lorenzo del Escorial, Spain; died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound May 7, 2005, in Lancaster, PA. Musician, activist, and author. Though he only completed three novels before his death, Egolf drew attention as an exciting new author whose writing style was sometimes compared to that of William Faulkner. He was born near Madrid to a father who was a correspondent for the National Review and a mother who was a painter. He later moved back to the United States after his parents divorced. Egolf spent time living in Kentucky and Washington, DC, before enrolling at Temple University. After only two semesters, however, he concluded he could learn more on his own and dropped out of school. A guitarist, he performed with a punk rock band while writing his first novel. The book was rejected by dozens of publishers, so Egolf decided to move to Europe to become a street musician. While playing his guitar out in the cold in France, he was discovered by the daughter of French author Patrick Modiano. Modiano helped Egolf by taking the young American's manuscript to his own publisher. Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Corn Belt was published in 1998 and released in the United States the next year. Though it drew considerable attention, reviewers found it to be an interesting but flawed novel. Egolf followed this novel several years later with Skirt and the Fiddle (2002), but in the meantime he gained more attention as a political protestor. He and a group of friends who became known as the Smoketown Six (after the town of Smoketown, Pennsylvania) were arrested in 2004 for protesting a visit by President George W. Bush, during which they stacked their nearly naked bodies in a pyramid similar to the one shown in the infamous photographs of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The charges of disturbing the peace were later dropped, but Egolf and his friends countersued the government in a legal action that was still pending at the time of his death. Fighting bouts of depression, for which he was receiving counseling, the author nevertheless decided to end his own life. His last book, Kornwolf, was scheduled to be published posthumously.



Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2005, p. B11.

New York Times, May 14, 2005, p. A25.