December 16, 2018
Garrison Keillor returns to Crooner’s with singer Christine DiGiallonardo & pianist Richard Dworsky. Shows at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
New York, NY
December 2, 2018
A mini Prairie Home reunion featuring Garrison Keillor, Rob Fisher, Fred Newman, and Heather Masse and Christine DiGiallonardo.
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
by Jane Taylor
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Then the trav’ller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveler in the dark—
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
“The Star” by Jane Taylor. Public domain. (more information)
It’s the birthday of a writer that The Guardian calls one of the “world’s greatest living novelists,” Haruki Murakami, (books by this author) born in Ashiya City, Japan (1949). His parents both taught Japanese literature, and they talked about it so much that he came to resent it, and he took to reading foreign literature instead. His favorites were 19th-century European works — stuff by Flaubert, Dickens, Chekhov, Dostoevsky. And then, he started reading American detective stories, science fiction, and later, Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut — all of which had been translated into Japanese. He was so fascinated with them that he learned English well enough to read American literature in the original. He said, “It was like a door opening to another world.” He later said that “Raymond Carver was without question the most valuable teacher I have ever had, and also the greatest literary comrade.”
He studied drama in college, but didn’t care too much for schoolwork and mostly passed his time in a campus museum reading archived movie screenplays. He met his wife, worked in a record store, and before graduating he and his wife — each age 22 — had started a bar in a basement at the edge of Tokyo. They called it “Peter Cat.” It served coffee during the day, and at night it transformed into a jazz club.
He was 29 and sitting in the bleachers watching a game between two Japanese baseball teams, the Hiroshima Carp and the Yakult Swallows, when an American came to bat. He hit a double, and for some reason that was an epiphany for Murakami. He said he doesn’t know why, he just knew at that moment that he could write a novel. On his way home from the stadium, he stopped and bought new pens and paper, and that very night he began to write. He worked on it nightly for four months, one hour each night, after he’d finished closing the jazz bar. Hear the Bird Sing won top prize in a story contest and was first published in a prestigious Japanese literary magazine in 1979. The entire action of the novel takes place in August 1970 and is the first book in a series called “The Trilogy of the Rat.”
He decided to become a full-time writer. He began going to bed early and getting up early, eating homegrown vegetables, and doing serious distance running. He’s run several marathons in under three and a half hours.
His 1987 book, Norwegian Wood, sold millions of copies in Japan and made Murakami a literary sensation. To escape the fame, he and his wife lived abroad for several years, in Europe and in the United States, where Murakami taught at Princeton University. They returned to Japan in 1995. In 2002, he published Kafka on the Shore, a novel John Updike called “a real page-turner, as well as an insistently metaphysical mind-bender.” It’s about a teenager named Kafka Tamura, a “cool, tall, fifteen-year-old boy lugging a backpack and a bunch of obsessions.”
Haruki Murakami followed a strict regime while working on the book, which involves a sort of recasting of the myth of Oedipus. Every day for 180 days, he woke up at 4 a.m. and began working on the novel. After five hours of writing, he went for a run. Then he would go to music stores and look for old jazz records, then go for a swim and play squash, then work on the book some more while sipping a Siberian Express, a drink comprised of Smirnoff Vodka, Perrier, and lemon. And then he went to bed at 9 p.m. He finished the first draft, took a one-month break, and rewrote for another two months. Then he took another break from the book, and rewrote again.
He said that when he writes, “it’s kind of a free improvisation. I never plan. I never know what the next page is going to be. Many people don’t believe me. But that’s the fun of writing a novel or a story, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’m searching for melody after melody. Sometimes once I start, I can’t stop. It’s just like spring water. It comes out so naturally, so easily.”
Haruki Murakami said, “I write weird stories. Myself, I’m a very realistic person … I wake up at six in the morning and go to bed at 10, jogging every day and swimming, eating healthy food. … But when I write, I write weird.”
It’s the birthday of novelist David Mitchell, (books by this author) born in Southport, England (1969). He went to the University of Kent to study literature, and to pick up some extra money, he babysat for a professor’s sons. He made up stories for them, and to make the stories more interesting, he would switch between different literary styles.
He used that same trick many years later, when he was writing his third novel, Cloud Atlas (2004). It has six linked stories, one within the other, from six different genres — a 19th-century diary relating a sea adventure in the South Pacific; a slow-paced set of letters from a 1930s musician serving as the personal aid to a brilliant old composer in Belgium; a 1970s California environmental thriller, in pulp-fiction style; a contemporary gangster story of a small-time British publishing crook; a near-future dystopia set in Korea, filled with clones, advanced technology, and an oppressive totalitarian regime; and finally, the story of a tribal, post-apocalyptic culture in the South Pacific. Cloud Atlas was a best-seller, an award-winner, and got great reviews.
He said: “Midlife crisis. Age. The heart gets more interesting than structure. I’ve got kids, I’ve got a wife, we’re stuck with each other for a while. And suddenly there’s an understanding that this is what life is — it’s actually the mess, it’s the mud, it’s the tangle. It’s not the clean, hygienic … fireworks. It’s the little invisible novels that get written between two people every day of their lives. It’s the subtle power shifts. It’s the love, it’s the less-noble sentiments that make every single day either good or bad or not so good or wonderful or moving through all these things at the speed of West Cork weather. This is interesting stuff. Why go out there in search of extraterrestrial life when it’s already here?”
In 2016, David Mitchell completed a new novella called From Me Flows What You Call Time—but it won’t be published until 2114, as part of the Future Library Project. Margaret Atwood is another author who will contribute a work to this endeavor.