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 Owl and the Pussycat
by Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
“The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear. Public domain. (buy now)
To Kill a Mockingbird was published on this date in 1960. Nelle Harper Lee (books by this author) started writing anecdotes about life in the South after she moved to New York City in 1949, but they just weren’t coming together. The work she produced was good enough to land her an agent, who encouraged her, but in 1957 she became so frustrated that she threw her manuscript out the window of her apartment. Luckily for lovers of literature, she quickly repented and retrieved the pages. She completely dismantled what she had written, rebuilt it, and turned it into the book that would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.
When To Kill a Mockingbird first came out, Lee wasn’t sure what to expect. “I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement,” she later said. “I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”
The novel has sold more than 40 million copies.
It’s the birthday of the artist best known for a painting of his mother: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, born in Lowell, Massachusetts (1834). His most famous painting was titled Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871), but it’s more commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother.” It’s a portrait of Anna Matilda McNeill Whistler in a black dress, seated in profile against a gray wall. When Whistler’s scheduled model didn’t show up for a sitting, he decided to paint his mother instead.
It’s the birthday of Elwyn Brooks White, better known as E.B. White (books by this author), born in Mount Vernon, New York (1899). He wrote for The New Yorker for nearly 60 years, and married its first fiction editor, Katharine Angell, in 1929. The couple left New York City for a farmhouse in Maine, but White kept writing essays, including a series on farming for Harper’s; these were collected in the book One Man’s Meat (1942). He wrote a piece called “Death of a Pig” for Atlantic Monthly, about his unsuccessful attempt to save a dying pig. “I discovered […] that once having given a pig an enema there is no turning back, no chance of resuming one of life’s more stereotyped roles.” Four years later, White published his best-known book, Charlotte’s Web (1952). Beloved by young and old alike, it’s the story of Wilbur the pig and his friend Charlotte, a clever spider who helps save him from slaughter.
White also gave his name to the standard English-language style manual, The Elements of Style. William Strunk Jr. wrote the first edition of the book in 1918. White revived, revised, and expanded the style guide in 1959; with his significant input, The Elements of Stylebecame known informally as “Strunk and White.” In 2011, Time named the manual one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923. White himself once said: “It’s a funny little book, and it keeps going on. Occasionally I get irate letters from people who find a boo-boo in it, but many more from people who find it useful.” White includes a wealth of writing advice, including: “Do not affect a breezy style; use orthodox spelling; do not explain too much; avoid fancy words; do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity; prefer the standard to the offbeat; make sure the reader knows who is speaking; do not use dialect; revise and rewrite.”
It’s the birthday of Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri (books by this author), born Nilanjana Sudeshna Lahiri in London (1967). Her father, a librarian, moved the family to Kingston, Rhode Island, when Lahiri was two. Growing up, Lahiri often felt conflicted between two worlds: that of her parents, who still listened to traditional Bengali songs on a reel-to-reel tape player, and that of her American friends, who watched television and went to the movies. A nervous child who was afraid of sports and public speaking, she found solace in reading. She says: “Books, and the stories they contained, were the only things I felt I was able to possess as a child.” She began writing stories at age seven with a school friend, stealing blank notebooks from the teacher’s supply closet. They wrote stories about orphaned girls, prairies, and girls with magical powers.
She moved to Boston after graduating from Barnard College and worked the cash register at a bookstore. She rented a room in a house and pecked out stories at night on her typewriter. It took eight years and several rejections until her first collection of stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, was published (1999). It became an instant best-seller and won the Pulitzer Prize (2000).
Her most recent book is the Italian-language Dove mi trovo (2018).