February 24, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Crooners. Shows at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fergus Falls, MN
February 23, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at A Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m.
Detroit Lakes, MN
February 22, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Historic Holmes Theatre. 7:30 p.m.
St. Cloud, MN
February 21, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Pioneer Place on Fifth. 7:30 p.m.
February 20, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Paradise Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m.
by Gail Mazur
It was a kind of torture—waiting
to be kissed. A dark car parked away
from the street lamp, away from our house
where my tall father would wait, his face
visible at a pane high in the front door.
Was my mother always asleep? A boy
reached for me, I leaned eagerly into him,
soon the windshield was steaming.
Midnight. A neighbor’s bedroom light
goes on, then off. The street is quiet…
Until I married, I didn’t have my own key,
that wasn’t how it worked, not at our house.
You had to wake someone with the bell,
or he was there, waiting. Someone let you in.
Those pleasures on the front seat of a boy’s
father’s car were “guilty,” yet my body knew
they were the only right thing to do,
my body hated the cage it had become.
One of those boys died in a car crash;
one is a mechanic; one’s a musician.
They were young and soft, and, mostly, dumb.
I loved their lips, their eyebrows, the bones
of their cheeks, cheeks that scraped mine raw,
so I’d turn away from the parent who let me
angrily in. And always, the next day,
no one at home could penetrate the fog
around me. I’d relive the precious night
as if it were a bridge to my new state
from the old world I’d been imprisoned by,
and I’ve been allowed to walk on it, to cross
a border—there’s an invisible line
in the middle of the bridge, in the fog,
where I’m released, where I think I’m free.
“Desire” by Gail Mazur from Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems. © University of Chicago Press. Reprinted with permission of the author. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of writer George Saunders, born in Amarillo, Texas (1958), the author of the books CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996), Pastoralia (2000), In Persuasion Nation (2006), Tenth of December: Stories (2013), and Lincoln in the Bardo (2017). He contributes to magazines like The New Yorker, GQ, and McSweeney’s, and has won the National Magazine Award for fiction four times in the past 16 years.
He knew from the time he was a teenager that he wanted be a writer, though he majored in geophysical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. He said that for him, growing up on Chicago’s South Side, college was a vocational thing, something you did to get a job. But at the same time that he studied things like plate tectonics and geothermal gradients, he also became obsessed with the “raving romantic of a writer” Thomas Wolfe. He said, “I liked him because he was epic and broken-hearted and sloppy and emotional and in love with the world and wrote sentence after sentence beginning with the word ‘O,’ as in ‘O Brooklyn, harbinger of cruel autumn,’ or ‘O mourned and never-to-be-regained Time’ … I loved his big-heartedness and the way, apparently, he had just taken his life and made a huge book out of it.”
Pretty soon he’d started “pacing tragically around and phrasing [his] life in [Wolfe’s] terms: “O bitter Seven-Eleven of broken love, which, mourning, how many times have I paced by you, mad visions trumpeting my ravening brain, because of the lovely (FILL IN NAME OF GIRL) lost, no more to be Regained?” But then he graduated from college and moved to Asia to work in oil fields, and held a string of jobs in places like wastewater plants and military installations, which he said sort of tempered his lyrical sentimental streak. He’s also worked in a slaughterhouse, environmental engineering firm, pharmaceutical company, convenience store, and on top of Chicago roofs.
And ever since, he said, he’s been working at finding a prose style that could accommodate all of the different things that he’s seen: “Any claim I might make to originality in my fiction is really just the result of this odd background: basically, just me working inefficiently, with flawed tools, in a mode I don’t have sufficient background to really understand. Like if you put a welder to designing dresses.”
Engineering left him with a dislike for “literary” language, “language that’s consciously literary or purple of overly rich or full of kind of cornball metaphors.” He said, “I really like lean prose, stuff that just does what it’s supposed to do and gets out of there.”
He wrote in his short story “Sticks” (1995): “We left home, married, had children of our own, found the seeds of meanness blooming also within us. Dad began dressing the pole with more complexity and less discernible logic. He draped some kind of fur over it on Groundhog Day and lugged out a floodlight to ensure a shadow.”
He teaches creative writing at Syracuse University, and published his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, last year.
It’s the birthday of novelist Ann Patchett (books by this author), born in Los Angeles (1963). She grew up Catholic and went to an all-girls Catholic school in Nashville, where she still lives. She said: “Catholicism really trained me for fiction writing. I think it has to be the greatest religion for a fiction writer because it is so much a tradition of story and parable. I spent my whole childhood on my knees in front of pieces of carved marble, and in my heart I was filling that stone with enormous life. That gets at the essence of storytelling.”
She went to Sarah Lawrence College, where one of her teachers was the short-story writer Grace Paley. She said that Paley would cancel classes and take the students to protests, and that she discouraged any kind of pretension in their writing. Patchett said: “She taught me that writing must not be compartmentalized. You don’t step out of the stream of your life to do your work. Work was the life, and who you were as a mother, teacher, friend, citizen, activist, and artist was all the same person. People like to ask me if writing can be taught, and I say yes. I can teach you how to write a better sentence, how to write dialogue, maybe even how to construct a plot. But I can’t teach you how to have something to say.”
Patchett’s books include Bel Canto (2001), Truth and Beauty (2004), Run (2007), State of Wonder (2011), This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (2013), and most recently, Commonwealth (2016).