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+
What lips my lips have kissed…
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
“What lips my lips have kissed…” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Public domain. (buy now)
Today is the anniversary of the surrender that ended the American Revolutionary War, in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. George Washington had had a difficult spring. His troops were low on supplies and food, their clothing was in shreds, and there had been a steady stream of desertions from his ranks. By summer, Washington had only a few thousand troops camped at West Point, New York. The British expected Washington to attack New York City, which he had been planning to do for most of the spring. But when he learned that the British forces under the control of Lord Cornwallis were building a naval base on the Yorktown Peninsula in Virginia, he decided impulsively to march his army from New York to Virginia, in the hopes of trapping Cornwallis and capturing his army.
Washington’s plan to move his army 400 miles in order to catch his enemy by surprise was a bold move. He had to march his troops toward New York City first, to scare the British into hunkering down for an attack. Then he quickly moved south. Washington’s men and their French allies marched every day from 2:00 a.m. until it grew too hot to continue. It was a hot summer, and on one day, more than 400 men passed out from the heat. Few armies in history had ever moved so far so fast.
Lord Cornwallis learned of Washington’s approach before he arrived, but Cornwallis chose not to flee, because he thought his troops would be evacuated by the British navy. He didn’t realize that the British ships had already been routed by a French fleet from the south. So in the early weeks of October, he watched as Washington’s troops surrounded the city and began a siege. After several days of bombarding the city with gun and cannon fire, Washington received word that Cornwallis would surrender.
England didn’t have enough money to raise another army, and they appealed to America for peace. Two years later, the Treaty of Paris was signed, and the war was officially over.
It’s the birthday of the spy novelist David Cornwell who writes under the name John le Carré (books by this author), born in Poole, England (1931). In his novels such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), he’s known for writing realistically about spies who aren’t sexy or daring, like James Bond, but tired, lonely men, who barely trusted their own government more than they trusted their enemies.
His father was a con man who made money from fraudulent real estate deals and then racked up millions of dollars in gambling debts. Cornwell’s mother abandoned the family when he was five years old. His father was in and out of prison for various fraud charges, so he was raised mostly by his father’s various girlfriends. He never forgave the man. He said, “I think that my great villains have always had something of my father in them.”
Today is the birthday of Tracy Chevalier (1962) (books by this author), born in Washington, D.C. After college, she moved to London to stay for six months, but she fell in love with a British man and she has never left. She was a reference book editor for several years before she started writing historical novels. Her first novel, The Virgin Blue (1997), was a moderate success, and her second book, Girl With a Pearl Earring (1999), was a huge best-seller. For the book, Chevalier was inspired one day when she was staring at a poster she had bought when she was 19, a copy of Johannes Vermeer’s painting “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” She imagined what life might have been for the young woman who ended up the subject of that painting. She started the book right away, but she was pregnant and she didn’t want the book to get lost in her life as a new mother, so she researched and wrote the whole novel in just eight months, finishing just two weeks before the birth of her son. In it, she wrote, “He saw things in a way that others did not, so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place, so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face.”
She said, “Don’t write about what you know — write about what you’re interested in. Don’t write about yourself — you aren’t as interesting as you think.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®