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+
by Tim Nolan
Remember how we got out of the car
at 1:30 a.m. in the foggy heat and passed
along the sidewalks through the seminary
campus and out to the field?
That field where Pickett made his charge.
And do you remember how
it was a time of ghosts everywhere
rising with the hot dew? And you
were a little boy and I was much
younger than I am now—leaner—
and we walked a ways into the field
the crickets and hoppers jumping up
before our feet and we didn’t talk
at all all the way across the field
and when we went far enough a certain
distance I said something and you
agreed and so we turned back.
Tim Nolan, “Gettysburg” from The Field. Copyright © 2016 by Tim Nolan. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of New Rivers Press, www.newriverspress.com. All rights reserved. (buy now)
Today is Veterans Day, honoring Americans who have served their country in the armed forces.
November 11 was originally called Armistice Day because it was on this day in 1918 that the First World War came to an end. The armistice was signed at 11:00 a.m., on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. After four years of brutal trench fighting, 9 million soldiers had died and 21 million were wounded. It was called “The War to End All Wars,” because it was the bloodiest war in history up to that point, and it made many people so sick of war that they hoped no war would ever break out again.
It’s the birthday of a writer who was also a veteran, Kurt Vonnegut (books by this author), born in Indianapolis (1922). He joined the Army, and in December of 1944, he was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was imprisoned in a slaughterhouse in Dresden. On the night of February 13, 1945, British and American bombers attacked Dresden, igniting a firestorm that killed almost all the city’s inhabitants in two hours. Vonnegut and his fellow prisoners only survived because they slept in a meat locker three stories below the ground.
He spent the next two decades writing science fiction, but he knew he wanted to write about his experiences in Dresden, and finally did in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), about a man named Billy Pilgrim who believes that he experiences the events of his life out of order, including his service during World War II, the firebombing of Dresden, and his kidnapping by aliens. He decides there is no such thing as time, and everything has already happened, so there’s really nothing to worry about.
Kurt Vonnegut, also wrote Cat’s Cradle (1963), Breakfast of Champions (1973), and many other books. He once said: “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”
It’s the birthday of American writer Mary Gaitskill (1954) (books by this author), whose novels explore somewhat taboo subjects like sex work and sadomasochism, like Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991) and the short story collection Bad Behavior (1998).
She worked as a stripper and call girl while writing the stories that would become her first collection, Bad Behavior, which took her six years to write. She had an agent, but couldn’t place any of the stories in the usual magazines like Harper’s and The New Yorker, so she was stunned when the book was published to rave reviews and excellent sales. She was able to pay off her student loans and quit her day job.
Gaitskill’s other books include Veronica (2005), Don’t Cry (2009), and The Mare (2015), and Somebody with a Little Hammer (2017).
On this date in 1926, the United States Numbered Highway System was established. In the early days of automobile travel, the federal government wasn’t involved in interstate roads, because most people traveled long distances by train rather than car. Many of the highways were based on heavily traveled wagon trails from the 19th century, like the Oregon Trail or the Santa Fe Trail.
Perhaps the most famous of the new numbered highways was America’s “Mother Road,” Route 66. Roughly following a patchwork of old wagon trails that were built on the eve of the Civil War, Route 66 linked the main streets of small towns from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. Until then, residents of these isolated communities had been cut off from any national thoroughfares. Trade across state lines had been difficult and slow. Travel had been limited. When the trucking industry took off in the late 1920s, national planners saw the promise of a diagonal route through the Southwest.
John Steinbeck immortalized Route 66 in the American awareness with The Grapes of Wrath (1939), his tale of Dust Bowl refugees fleeing their barren farms for better opportunity in California. Throughout its history, the highway drew writers, wanderers, and adventurers. Kerouac’s character Sal Paradise traveled the highway in his novel On The Road (1957). Bobby Troup’s song “Route 66” was covered by everyone from Nat King Cole to the Rolling Stones, advising: “If you ever plan to motor west, travel my way, the highway that’s best, get your kicks from Route 66.”
The first major interstate highway was the Lincoln Highway, and it ran from New York City all the way to San Francisco, but most highways were located in and around larger cities. By 1925, there were more than 250 named highways in the United States, including transcontinental highways like the Dixie Overland Highway, which ran from Savannah, Georgia, to San Diego, California; the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, which ran between the Portlands — Maine’s and Oregon’s — with a brief sojourn into Canada; and north-south routes such as the Jackson Highway, which ran from Chicago to New Orleans.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®