Marjorie Williams died yesterday at age 47. Marjorie, a Washington Post columnist and Vanity Fair writer, was married to Slate “Chatterbox” columnist Timothy Noah. She made countless appearances over the years in Tim’s column—you know her as “Mrs. Chatterbox” and the mother of the two “Chatterkinder”—but she was also a regular Slate contributor. You can read Jack Shafer’s column about Marjorie here.
Elsewhere, Marjorie wrote brilliantly about power and politics: She used Slate to tackle other favorite subjects, particularly family life and great fiction. A former book editor, she reviewed half a dozen novels for us, including The Man Who Loved Children, The Constant Gardener, and (with Tim) A Man in Full. Her 1999 “Diary” included wonderful riffs on quitting smoking, her children’s behavior on airplanes, and the connection between the Lewinsky affair and her dental surgery. (“I don’t think we’ve given enough thought to root canal as a possible penalty for Clinton’s behavior.”) Marjorie was also the most popular guest at Slate’s“Breakfast Table,” a casual e-mail exchange about the week’s news. She chatted with other journalists such as Tucker Carlson, Atul Gawande, and Joel Achenbach, but her sweetest, funniest Breakfast Table was conducted over her real breakfast table—a three-week, 76-entry conversation with Tim about everything from Frosted Flakes to J. Lo’s butt to the phone repairman to Europe’s demographic crisis to the Albanian film industry.