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
Dislocation by Marge Piercy from The Crooked Inheritance. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It happens in an instant.
My grandma used to say
someone is walking on your grave.
It’s that moment when your life
is suddenly strange to you
as someone else’s coat
you have slipped on at a party
by accident, and it is far
too big or too tight for you.
Your life feels awkward, ill
fitting. You remember why you
came into this kitchen, but you
feel you don’t belong here.
It scares you in a remote
numb way. You fear that you—
whatever you means, this mind,
this entity stuck into a name
like mercury dropped into water—
have lost the ability to enter your
self, a key that no longer works.
Perhaps you will be locked
out here forever peering in
at your body, if that self is really
what you are. If you are at all.
It was on this day in 1958 that the novel Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak (books by this author), was published in the United States. Doctor Zhivago isset during the Russian Revolution and World War I, and it tells the story of Yuri Zhivago, a doctor and poet, and his love for a woman named Lara. Pasternak worked on his novel for decades, and finished it in 1956. He submitted the book for publication, but although Pasternak was a famous writer by then, his manuscript was rejected —the publishers explained that Doctor Zhivago was not in line with the spirit of the revolution, too concerned with individualism.
An Italian journalist visited Pasternak at his country house and convinced the novelist to let him smuggle a copy of Doctor Zhivago out of the country to the leftist Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Pasternak is said to have declared as he handed over the manuscript: “You are hereby invited to watch me face the firing squad!” He was not executed, but when the upcoming publication was announced in Italy, Soviet authorities were furious, and forced Pasternak to send Feltrinelli telegrams insisting that he halt publication of the novel. One of them said: “I have come to the profound conviction that what I wrote cannot be regarded as a finished work,” and in another Pasternak called his novel “in need of serious improvement.” But Feltrinelli was not fooled, and continued with publication. Soon enough, Feltrinelli received a private, scribbled note from Pasternak begging him to continue. Pasternak wrote: “I wrote the novel to be published and read. That remains my only wish.”
Feltrinelli published Doctor Zhivago, and helped get it published all over the world. The Soviet Union’s attempts to stop its publication only made it more interesting to readers. When it was first published in Italy in November of 1957, the first printing of 6,000 copies sold out within the first day. Doctor Zhivago was published in the United States on this day in 1958, and even though it wasn’t published until September, it was the best-selling book of 1958. It quickly became a bestseller in 24 languages.
Pasternak was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1958, and when he first head of the award, he sent a telegram to the Swedish Academy that said: “Immensely thankful, touched, proud, astonished, abashed.” Two days later, Soviet authorities forced him to write again, this time to say he would refuse the prize. Pasternak died two years later, in 1960, and Doctor Zhivago was not published in the Soviet Union until 1988.
Doctor Zhivago begins: “On they went, singing ‘Rest Eternal,’ and whenever they stopped, their feet, the horses, and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing. Passers-by made way for the procession, counted the wreaths, and crossed themselves. Some joined in out of curiosity and asked: ‘Who is being buried?’—’Zhivago,’ they were told.—’Oh, I see. That’s what it is.’—’It isn’t him. It’s his wife.’—’Well, it comes to the same thing. May her soul rest in peace. It’s a fine funeral.'”
It’s the birthday of Ward Just (books by this author), born in Michigan City, Indiana (1935). He’s the author of more than a dozen books of fiction, including The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert (1973), The American Blues, (1984) The American Ambassador (1987), and Jack Gance (1989).
But long before he started writing fiction, he was a journalist. He came from a family of serious journalists — his dad, and his grandfather before him, published the town newspaper. He himself started working as an investigative reporter for the family newspaper when he was just 13 years old. A few years later, when he was about to graduate from high school, his managing editor fired him for wearing shorts to work — which he deemed to be a lack of respect for the newspaper business. But they hired him back after he dropped out of college and returned home to be a full-time journalist.
By the time he was 24, he was writing features for Newsweek magazine, and then he was writing for The Washington Post. He went to Saigon to cover the Vietnam War, where he was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a grenade. He came back to the States to recover, and he wrote a book called To What End: Report from Vietnam (1968), and then he quit journalism and launched into fiction.
His 1997 novel Echo House was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his 2004 novel An Unfinished Season was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
His book Exiles in the Garden (2009) begins:
“Especially when he was alone Alec Malone had the habit of slipping into reverie, a semiconscious state not to be confused with dreams. Dreams were commonplace while his reveries presented a kind of abstract grandeur, expressionist canvases in close focus, untitled. … The reveries had been with him since childhood and he treated them like old friends paying a visit.”
It’s the birthday of journalist and activist Jonathan Kozol (books by this author), born in Boston (1936). He worked as public school teacher in Boston and has written many books about the sad state of public education in this country, and about how segregated our schools still are, all based on his own experiences in classrooms and working in poor neighborhoods. His books include Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (1991) and Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation (1995), about kids in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx.
Kozol said, “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.”
It was on this day in 1957 that Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road was published (books by this author), based on the trip he took across the country 10 years before. He began his journey in New York where he rode a trolley to the edge of Yonkers, and wanted to hitchhike, but got to Route 6 at the Connecticut border in the middle of a big rainstorm. No cars picked him up so he gave up, went back to New York, and bought a bus ticket to Chicago. He started hitchhiking there, and he stayed at YMCA’s and cheap motels. He crossed the Mississippi, and in Omaha he saw his first cowboy. He rode on the back of a flatbed truck with a group of hobos.
He knew he wanted to write about all of his experiences, and finally in April of 1951, Kerouac sat down at his kitchen table, wound a continuous roll of paper into a typewriter, tuned his radio to an all-night jazz station, and in 20 days had the first draft to his novel. He told the story of his adventures with his friend Neal Cassady, changed Cassady’s name to Dean Moriarty and his own name to Sal Paradise.