E. Lynn Harris, a onetime corporate executive who turned to fiction to explain the lives of
closeted black professionals like himself, collapsed last night at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. He died shortly afterward, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to Associated Press. Harris, 54, had reportedly blacked out earlier this week on a train trip en route to Los Angeles, where he'd come to promote his new book, Just Too Good to Be True.
An honors student at the University of Arkansas, Harris would later join IBM, Hewlett-Packard and AT&T. But he left that comfortable world and its plush closet to become both a best-selling author of romance novels and an early chronicler of black gay life. Lines from his breakout self-published novel, Invisible Life, capture a classical theme of unconscious self-discovery:
"While on the Delta flight to New Orleans, I had a dream that bothered
me," the autobiographical novel's narrator remembers. ". . . All during my stay in steamy New
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Orleans I thought about the dream. I was puzzled as to why I was
dreaming about a guy I had only seen once and to whom I had never
spoken a word."
There is no word yet as to the cause of Harris' death.