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+
Winter: Tonight: Sunset
by David Budbill
Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first
through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop
and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.
I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening
a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.
David Budbill “Winter: Tonight: Sunset” from While We’ve Still Got Feet. Copyright © 2015 by David Budbill. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison (books about this historical figure), born in Milan, Ohio (1847). He eventually amassed 1,093 patents, the most patents ever issued to a single person in American history. Among his greatest inventions: the phonograph, the light bulb, and the movie camera.
Pico Iyer said: “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing. And though reading is the best school of writing, school is the worst place for reading. Writing should … be as spontaneous and urgent as a letter to a lover, or a message to a friend who has just lost a parent … and writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.”
He once described himself as “a global village on two legs.” After college, he spent a year working in a Mexican restaurant in the U.S., disguising himself as a Mexican. Then he and a friend went on a trip from California through Central America to Bolivia. He later said: “It’s a great thing to take a journey like that when you’re seventeen or eighteen because you’re relatively reckless and you don’t really know what the dangers are. And then once you’ve done it, anything seems possible.”
He went to graduate school at Harvard, and during the summers he got a job writing for a budget travel guidebook. He traveled around England, France, Italy, and Greece, living on almost no money and sleeping in the gutters and under bridges. He covered a different town each day, walking its streets and taking notes in the morning and afternoon and writing it up in the evening.
After graduating, he got a job working for Time magazine. He sat in a cubicle all day and wrote articles about places like the Philippine jungles and the Andes Mountains, from reports he got from other writers. He finally got fed up with office work and took a vacation to Southeast Asia. He fell in love with the place and decided to take a six-month leave of absence. He spent the first three months traveling through 10 Southeast Asian countries and the next three months writing the draft of his first book, Video Nights in Katmandu (1988). He’s since published several more books, including the novel Abandon: A Romance (2003) and The Man Within My Head (2012).
She did an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was enthralled with Flannery O’Connor. Then she moved to Florida, did research for a U.S. Navy marine laboratory on a barrier island off the central western coast of Florida, and lived alone in a trailer, surrounded by swamps and alligators and snakes. She said: “I was miserable, of course. But it was all very good for my writing. It’s good to be miserable and a little off-balance.”
It was there that she wrote her first novel, State of Grace (1973), which was published when she was age 29. It received glowing reviews and was nominated for the National Book Award. But her second novel, The Changeling (1978), received a lot of really bad reviews, and she was so devastated she took a break from novel-writing.
She wrote a guidebook to the Florida Keys instead. Random House, in the mid-1980s, had decided to put out a small series of guidebooks, and asked her to write one about the Keys. The proposed series of guidebooks never took off, but William’s own research did. Her research went on for years. She produced 10 editions of The Florida Keys: A History and Guide. She said, “Each edition got gloomier and wilder until I stopped ‘updating’ it and wrote a terminating afterword.” She also said, “Writing about the keys taught me to be scrappy and irreverent and ecologically educated.”
She’s written many essays about the environment, some of which are collected in Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals (2001). She also returned to writing fiction, publishing the short-story collection Taking Care (1982), Escapes (1990), Honored Guest (2004), and The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories (2015), as well as the novels Breaking and Entering (1988) and The Quick and the Dead (2000), which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®