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 Connie Wanek
“I should have stepped in,”
God said, “when they began to barter
figs for sharpened stones.”
“Don’t blame yourself,”
Mrs. God took the Lord’s hand.
“People are still basically good.”
They looked down
as a cluster of speculators
began to short the new armistice.
“You gave them manna.
That was brilliant.” She remembered
the day people realized this heavenly bounty
could not be seized, hoarded,
and monetized. From a distance
she had watched the most ambitious
struggle beneath insane burdens,
only to find swarming maggots the next
morning, their inventory spoiled.
One by one they seemed to catch on.
But eventually the very same people
invented hedge funds.
“Maybe we can learn something
from them,” Mrs. God suggested,
“and just stop caring.”
“Business” by Connie Wanek from Consider the Lilies: Mrs. God Poems. Will o’ the Wisp Books, 2018.
On this day in 1605, Book One of Cervantes’ (books by this author) Don Quixote was published. It’s considered to be the first modern novel. It’s about a middle-aged landowner from a village in La Mancha who stays awake at night reading books about chivalry, becomes obsessed with tales, forgets to eat and sleep, insanely believes the tales to be true, and sets off on a skinny nag in a heroic quest to resurrect old-fashioned chivalry and heroism in the modern world.
There’s a play by Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand (books by this author) called The Night of January 16th. It’s a courtroom drama set in New York City about a Swedish banker who has extorted millions out of shareholders to inflate the gold market. The stock market had then crashed in 1929, and the swindler was going bankrupt even though he’d gotten a big bailout from his banker father-in-law. On the night of January 16th, he falls to his death from a penthouse suite where he’s been with his mistress. The big question is whether it was murder or suicide. His mistress is on trial for murder. In Ayn Rand’s play, 12 members of the audience are chosen to be the jury, so the play actually has different endings when it’s staged. It ran on Broadway during the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression.
It’s the birthday of writer Susan Sontag, (books by this author) born Susan Rosenblatt in New York City (1933). She said, “Childhood was a terrible waste of time.” Her own childhood was often lonely. Her parents were wealthy — her father owned a fur trading business called the Kung Chen Fur Corporation, and they lived in China.
The family moved to Miami, then Tucson, then Los Angeles. Susan was a very smart young woman, bored by most of her classmates and the Southern California culture around her. After her first semester of her sophomore year of high school, the principal of the school informed her that the school had nothing more to offer her and offered to let her graduate then. So she spent a semester at the University of California, Berkeley, and then transferred to the University of Chicago. When she was 17, she went to a class taught by a 28-year-old sociology professor and they hit it off. About two weeks later, they got married. She got two master’s degrees from Harvard, studied at Oxford and the Sorbonne, had a son, and got divorced, all by the age of 26.
She said that she arrived in New York in 1959 with “70 dollars, two suitcases, and a seven-year-old.” Growing up, her dream was to write for the Partisan Review. In New York, she marched up to the editor at a cocktail party and asked if she could write for the magazine. In 1964, in the Partisan Review, she published the essay that made her famous: “Notes On ‘Camp.'” She discussed what made something “campy,” why camp is a phenomenon, what separates camp from just plain bad, and why camp should be taken seriously. She wrote: “The experiences of Camp are based on the great discovery that the sensibility of high culture has no monopoly upon refinement. Camp asserts that good taste is not simply good taste; that there exists, indeed, a good taste of bad taste. (Genet talks about this in Our Lady of the Flowers.) The discovery of the good taste of bad taste can be very liberating. The man who insists on high and serious pleasures is depriving himself of pleasure; he continually restricts what he can enjoy; in the constant exercise of his good taste he will eventually price himself out of the market, so to speak. Here Camp taste supervenes upon good taste as a daring and witty hedonism. It makes the man of good taste cheerful, where before he ran the risk of being chronically frustrated. It is good for the digestion. Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, of appreciation, — not judgment. Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy. It only seems like malice, cynicism. (Or, if it is cynicism, it’s not a ruthless but a sweet cynicism.) Camp taste doesn’t propose that it is in bad taste to be serious; it doesn’t sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic. What it does is to find the success in certain passionate failures.”
It’s the birthday of poet Mary Karr, (books by this author) born in Groves, Texas (1955). For years she worked as a poet, and she had published two books, Abacus (1987) and The Devil’s Tour (1993), when she decided to try writing a memoir. She had a tough life as a kid, growing up in an East Texas oil town. Her mother was an artist who had been married seven different times, and her father was a champion storyteller who worked at the oil refinery. Both of them drank a lot. Karr wrote about herself: “I was small-boned and skinny, but more than able to make up for that with sheer meanness.” She would fight and bite and shoot BB guns at people.
Her memoir was The Liars’ Club (1995), and it stayed on the New York Times best-seller charts for more than a year. She said, “When I set out on a book tour to promote the memoir about my less than perfect Texas clan, I did so with soul-sucking dread. Surely we’d be held up as grotesques, my beloveds and I, real moral circus freaks. Instead I shoved into bookstores where sometimes hundreds of people stood claiming to identify with my story, which fact stunned me. Maybe these people’s family lives differed in terms of surface pyrotechnics — houses set fire to and fortunes squandered. But the feelings didn’t. After eight weeks of travel, I ginned up this working definition for a dysfunctional family: any family with more than one person in it.”
She followed up The Liars’ Club with two more memoirs, Cherry (2000) and Lit (2009), and three books of poetry, Viper Rum (1998), Sinners Welcome (2006), and Tropic of Squalor (2018).
She said, “I’d spent way more years worrying about how to look like a poet — buying black clothes, smearing on scarlet lipstick, languidly draping myself over thrift-store furniture — than I had learning how to assemble words in some discernible order.”
She said: “When you grow up someplace like where I grew up, people are not resentful about being written about in a book — they are kind of happy to have somebody write about them. I turned out to read, or to sign books, near my hometown at a library and there were like 500 people there. It was 102 degrees or something. I was very moved by it. Obviously that’s the most gratifying thing for anybody — to go home and have done good. The guy who I stole watermelons with when I was a kid, who is now the sheriff of this town, was there. People from my neighborhood, guys who drank with my father. It’s moving.”
And, “Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.”