November 3, 2018
Garrison Keillor performs with duet partner Lynne Peterson and longtime collaborator & pianist Richard Dworsky.
5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
A live performance at the Brady Theater
Long Beach, CA
A live performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center
A live performance at the Saenger Theatre
A live performance at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center
“Sonnet 109” by William Shakespeare. Public domain. (buy now)
O! never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seemed my flame to qualify.
As easy might I from myself depart
As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie:
That is my home of love; if I have ranged,
Like him that travels, I return again,
Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
So that myself bring water for my stain.
Never believe, though in my nature reigned
All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
That it could so preposterously be stained,
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good;
For nothing this wide universe I call,
Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.
On this day in 1790, the first U.S. Census was conducted. The United States was the first country in the world to make a census mandatory in its constitution. It is to be held every 10 years and to serve as the basis for Congressional seats, electoral votes, and to aid planning of government services. In 1790, only the names of the heads of households were recorded and the number of “free white males” were counted for draft purposes. Women were not allowed to work as census takers and were rarely named in the census except when widowed. Genders and ethnicities of all other residents were noted, but slaves were only counted as three-fifths of a person, and American Indians were not counted at all.
It wasn’t accurate, but the first census recorded just under 4 million people residing in the United States. In 2010, almost 310 million residents were recorded. It is now the largest peacetime operation in the country and employs more than a million Americans.
Today is the birthday of James Baldwin (books by this author), born in Harlem (1924). He grew up poor, the oldest of nine children. He worked at sweatshops as a teen, and gravitated toward books at a young age, spending any free time reading and writing at the public library. He said: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who had ever been alive.” He was also attracted to the language and redemptive imagery of the Bible, and at 16, he preached sermons from the Pentecostal pulpit, attracting larger crowds than his minister father.
When he was 18, he got a job on the New Jersey railroad and later took up in Greenwich Village, where he was befriended by the African-American painter Beauford Delaney. Baldwin said, “He was the first walking living proof for me that a black man could be an artist.” He supported himself doing freelance work, and was beginning to come to terms with his sexuality — but he found the attitude in the U.S. toward blacks and homosexuals to be unbearable. When the writer Richard Wright helped him secure a grant to write abroad, Baldwin moved to Paris and later to Switzerland where he finished his first autobiographical novel about growing up in Harlem, Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953). He continued to move between the States and Europe for the next decade, calling himself a commuter rather than an expatriate, breaking new ground in literature with his novels Notes of a Native Son (1956) and Giovanni’s Room (1957), which openly discussed homosexuality.
Although he lived in France, Baldwin’s work was rooted in the American experience. He said, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” The Civil Rights movement inspired him to return to the States, where he spoke to audiences and wrote essays on race relations, and in 1956, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine with the publication of The Fire Next Time. He was devastated by the assassinations of his close friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., and though he was criticized for being out of touch with the times, he returned to France in the ’70s, where he continued to write, publishing two more novels and a final collection of poetry, Jimmy’s Blues (1983).
Baldwin said, “You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”
It’s the birthday of novelist and military historian Caleb Carr, (books by this author) born in New York City (1955). He’s the author of The Devil Soldier (1991), The Alienist (1994), The Angel of Darkness (1997), and The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians; Why It Has Always Failed (2002).
His dad was Lucien Carr, an editor who was involved in the Beat scene — he was the man who introduced poets Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs to each other. The Beat poets were always hanging around Carr’s Manhattan home when Caleb was growing up.
But even as a child, Caleb Carr was totally turned off by the Beat movement. The Beat poets who hung out at his house were nice people, he said, but “they weren’t children people. … What they were up to was not gonna make any child feel reassured.” He said, “They were noisy, drunken people, living very alternative lifestyles. … You needed to be grown-up to be around them if you wanted to not be terrified.”
He rebelled by studying military history. It broke his mother’s heart; she equated her son’s interest with killing. But he said that the orderliness and stability of the military appealed to him, since he found these things missing from his own childhood.
He was especially enchanted with the life of Teddy Roosevelt, who developed big ideals as a child and stayed true to those ideals. Carr’s first published book about military history was called America Invulnerable: The Quest for Absolute Security, from 1812 to Star Wars (1988, co-author James Chace).
His most recent book is a detective novel: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (2005).
It’s the birthday of the novelist Isabel Allende, (books by this author) born in Lima, Peru (1942), the author of many books, including Eva Luna (1987) and Portrait in Sepia (2000). Her father’s cousin, Salvador Allende, became Chile’s first elected socialist president. But on September 11, 1973, a military coup led by General Pinochet overthrew the government and assassinated Salvador Allende. Isabel and all her family were put on a wanted list and received death threats, so they fled to Venezuela. While she was in Venezuela, Isabel Allende found out that her beloved grandfather was dying in Chile, and she couldn’t go back to see him. So she started to write him a letter, to reassure him that she wouldn’t forget all his stories and memories.
It became her first novel, The House of the Spirits (1985), a novel of magical realism that tells the story of four generations of the Trueba family and their lives in Chile from the turn of the century through the coup.