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+
I Didn’t Think I Would
by Marjorie Saiser
I didn’t think I would, you weren’t
exactly my type, it was your clean
short fingernails, your Adam’s apple
when you were trying to say
what you weren’t used to saying,
and then how you liked to go
out to breakfast, omelets and toast
and lots of coffee, it was how clean
and waxed your floors were, cold
and hard and dustless and you so
warm in your shirt, so showered
and shaved, careful colors
and I would strew clothing
on your floors and pile books
on those flat bare surfaces,
set cups with a click on a dresser
or a sink or a counter. I wasn’t
trying for anything, it was—
it is—just a spell I want to be under
“I Didn’t Think I Would” by Marjorie Saiser from Learning to Swim. Stephen F. Austin University Press, © 2019. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the publisher and editor of The Little Review magazine, Margaret Anderson, born in Indianapolis, Indiana (1886). She grew up in the small town of Columbus, Indiana, but early on she decided that she didn’t fit into small-town life at all. So she moved to Chicago, which was the artistic capital of the Midwest at the time. In order to create a circle of artistic friends, she decided to start a magazine devoted to the avant-garde. She said that her plan was to fill the magazine with “the best conversation the world has to offer.”
She called her magazine The Little Review, and the first issue came out in March 1914. The magazine had a motto printed on the cover that said, “A Magazine of the Arts, Making No Compromise with the Public Taste.” In 1918, the poet Ezra Pound showed Anderson the manuscript for a new novel called Ulysses by a man named James Joyce. When she read it, she wrote to Pound: “This is the most beautiful thing we’ll ever have! We’ll print it if it’s the last effort of our lives.” It took three years to serialize the whole novel, during which four complete issues of the magazine were confiscated and burned by the U.S. Post Office.
She was eventually convicted of obscenity charges for printing the novel. At the trial, the judge wouldn’t let the offending material be read in her presence, because she was a woman, even though she had published it. But she said that the worst part of the experience was just the fact that all those issues of her magazine had been burned. She said: “The care we had taken to preserve Joyce’s text intact. […] The addressing, wrapping, stamping, mailing; the excitement of anticipating the world’s response to the literary masterpiece of our generation … and then a notice from the Post Office: BURNED.”
She kept publishing The Little Review after that, but the issues appeared less and less frequently. Her last issue came out in 1929.
Margaret Anderson said: “I wasn’t born to be a fighter. The causes I have fought for have invariably been causes that should have been gained by a delicate suggestion. Since they never were, I made myself into a fighter.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Laurence Sterne, (books by this author) born in Clonmel, Ireland (1713). He became an Anglican priest, and he worked in two parishes to make a living. He tried to supplement his income by farming, but he was sick with tuberculosis, so it was hard to run a farm. He was married, but it was an unhappy marriage, and his wife also had tuberculosis, and suffered nervous breakdowns.
During one of his wife’s breakdowns, he was feeling seriously depressed and he started writing a novel. It became The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760), which was a big success throughout Europe. It was funny, it was bawdy, and it had some serious ideas, too. But it’s most famous for being the first novel about writing a novel. The main character keeps interrupting himself, and having imaginary conversations with readers. Because of this, it was very influential about 200 years later to writers who used a stream-of-consciousness style, writers like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.
Laurence Sterne wrote, “Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; — they are the life, the soul of reading; —take them out of this book for instance, —you might as well take the book along with them.”
And he wrote, “I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me.”
It’s the birthday of architect Cass Gilbert, born in Zanesville, Ohio (1859). His father was a surveyor who got a job in St. Paul, Minnesota, and so when Cass was nine years old, he and his family moved to Minnesota to join him. But his father died shortly after the family arrived, and so the boy had to go to work. But his mother also wanted him to continue his education, so he became an apprentice to a draftsman in an architecture office, and worked as a carpenter’s assistant.
He went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture, he traveled through Europe to see the great buildings there, and then he worked at a firm in New York. But he went back to Minnesota to start his own business. At first, business was slow — his first major piece of architecture was his mother’s house in St. Paul — and he sold watercolor paintings to supplement his earnings as an architect. But after he was invited to design the Minnesota State Capitol, he started getting commissions, and he went on to design many prominent buildings like the U.S. Custom House, the St. Louis Art Museum and its Public Library, the United States Supreme Court Building, and the Woolworth Building in New York City, which was 792 feet tall, making it, at that time, the tallest building in the world.
He said, “Public buildings best serve the public by being beautiful.”
It’s the birthday of writer Arundhati Roy, (books by this author) born in Shillong, Meghalaya, India (1961). She is often called a “writer-activist,” a label that she said reminds her of “a sofa-bed.” She was raised by a single mother who had separated from her alcoholic husband when Arundhati was two. When she was 16, she moved into a squatter’s village in Delhi and made her living selling empty beer bottles. She worked as a baker and an aerobics instructor, and studied architecture, before moving into the film industry, and from there, into writing fiction. She said: “When I decided to write The God of Small Things, I had been working in cinema. It was almost a decision to downshift from there. I thought that 300 people would read it.”
Instead, The God of Small Things (1997) sold more than 6 million copies. It was the first Indian novel to win the Booker Prize, and suddenly Roy was a media and literary darling, rich and famous. Then, in 1998, India conducted nuclear tests, which were generally viewed as a triumphant symbol of India’s new status as a rising world power. For Roy, they were a wake-up call. She said, “I was just this fairy princess of the rising Indian middle class and then the nuclear tests happened and it was obvious to me that keeping quiet was as political as saying something.” And so she said something — she wrote an essay called “The End of Imagination,” totally denouncing the testing of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan. She wrote: “I am filled with foreboding. In this country, I have truly known what it means for a writer to feel loved (and, to some degree, hated too). Last year I was one of the items being paraded in the media’s end-of-the-year National Pride Parade. Among the others, much to my mortification, were a bomb-maker and an international beauty queen. Each time a beaming person stopped me on the street and said, ‘You have made India proud’ (referring to the prize I won, not the book I wrote), I felt a little uneasy. It frightened me then and it terrifies me now, because I know how easily that swell, that tide of emotion, can turn against me. Perhaps the time for that has come. I’m going to step out from under the fairy lights and say what’s on my mind.”
She said, “As a writer, a fiction writer, I have often wondered whether the attempt to always be precise, to try and get it all factually right, somehow reduces the epic scale of what is really going on. Does it eventually mask a larger truth? I worry that I am allowing myself to be railroaded into offering prosaic, factual precision when maybe what we need is a feral howl, or the transformative power and real precision of poetry.”
She published her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, in 2017.
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