Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
The courage that my mother had
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The courage that my mother had
Went with her, and is with her still:
Rock from New England quarried;
Now granite in a granite hill.
The golden brooch my mother wore
She left behind for me to wear;
I have no thing I treasure more:
Yet, it is something I could spare.
Oh, if instead she’d left to me
The thing she took into the grave!-
That courage like a rock, which she
Has no more need of, and I have.
“The courage that my mother had” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of writer George Saunders (books by this author), born in Amarillo, Texas (1958), the author of the books CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996), Pastoralia (2000), and In Persuasion Nation (2006). He has contributed to magazines like The New Yorker, GQ, and McSweeney’s, and has won the National Magazine Award for fiction four times.
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.”
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.
He said: “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.”
He teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. His most recent book Lincoln in the Bardo (2017).
It’s the birthday of novelist Ann Patchett (books by this author), born in Los Angeles (1963). She went to a Catholic girls school in Nashville and published her first short story in The Paris Review when she was still an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College. Critics raved, and the story appeared in lots of anthologies. And then she got a bunch of rejection slips — and writer’s block.
She moved back in with her mom and got a job waiting tables at T.G.I. Friday’s in Nashville. She said that there were so many great things about those dark days waitressing there, like a deep sense of camaraderie — a place where, she said, “Everybody believed that they were special, that they weren’t really a waiter, that they were the one who was getting out. … I had to come to terms with the fact that I was just like everybody else, a girl with a dream and a plate of hot fajitas.”
At the end of her shifts, to keep herself awake while rolling silverware at two in the morning, she made up a story in her head, and kept adding to it during the course of a year. And then she sat down and wrote that story in six months, and it became her first published novel, The Patron Saint of Liars (1992).
Her fourth novel, Bel Canto (2001), published a decade later and inspired by the hostage crises in Peru, was enormously successful. It won the PEN/Faulkner award and sold more than a million copies. Since then, she’s written the memoir Truth & Beauty (2004), a collection of essays This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (2014), and most recently, a novel The Dutch House (2019), a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.
It’s the birthday of novelist and short-story writer T.C. Boyle, (books by this author) also known as T. Coraghessan Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle in Peekskill, New York (1948). His father was a janitor and school bus driver, his mother was a secretary, and both were alcoholics, and they both died from alcohol-related illnesses in their 50s. He was a poor student, but in order to avoid the draft he got a job as a high school teacher in Peekskill, where he had grown up. And he decided he wanted to become a writer. He said: “My apprenticeship was spent in dark bars till late at night — and in New York they stay open till four — with a bunch of other Deadheads, telling them how I was going to write and arguing various points of aesthetics. After a couple of years of that, I thought, well gee, maybe I actually might want to try to write something.” And he did. He got a couple of stories published, and he got accepted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and he went on to write novels and books of short stories, including The Tortilla Curtain (1995), After the Plague (2001), Drop City (2003), and, The Women (2009), a novel based on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, which T.C. Boyle was inspired to write because he lives in a house in California designed by the architect.
It’s the birthday of novelist Elizabeth Berg (books by this author), born in Saint Paul, Minnesota (1948). She submitted her first poem to a magazine when she was nine years old. The magazine was American Girl, and the poem was rejected. It took her 25 years to work up the courage to write again. She worked as a registered nurse for 10 years; and one day, she entered an essay contest for Parents magazine and won. She wrote pieces for magazines for the next 10 years and moved on to novels. Her first novel, Durable Goods, was published in 1993.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®