St. Michael, MN
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director CHANGE: JULY 4, 2021, 4:00 PM Le Musique Music Room 4300 O’Day Ave. NE, St. Michael, MN 55376 $42/$15 Due to the extreme heat, we have moved this concert […]
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director July 2, 2021, 7:30 PM BIG TOP CHAUTAUQUA, BAYFIELD, WI Reserved $60/$52/$42 SOLD OUT Live Stream available (only 7/2 7:30PM) The Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is a 900-seat […]
Just Added: Stillwater, MN 6-29
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JUST ADDED June 29, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, […]
Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
Back in our old house in Montana,
by Judith Waller Carroll
my mother hums something by Sinatra.
Outside, piles of leaves circle the yard
like teepees. Soon she will go out
to burn them, squinting against the smoke.
But there is a fire in the stove
so she lingers a while, sipping her coffee.
What I would give to go back
to that time and sit down beside her.
All day, the name of the tune she was humming
purrs around the edge of my memory
like a cat around my ankles, then glides away
just as I reach out to hold it.
“Back in our old house in Montana,” by Judith Waller Carroll from The Consolation of Roses. © Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
On this day in 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from the French. More specifically, the United States bought France’s “claim” to the Louisiana Territory. The actual land belonged to the various Indian nations that lived on it, and the U.S. government acquired it gradually, through purchase and war, over the rest of the 19th century.
The Louisiana Purchase cost $15 million — less than three cents an acre — which we borrowed from European banks at 6 percent interest. It was a smoking deal, since Jefferson had been willing to pay $10 million for the port of New Orleans alone. The territory covered 828,000 square miles, stretching from present-day Louisiana north to Canada, and as far west as the border of Idaho, doubling the geographical area of the United States.
Today is the birthday of Alice B. (for Babette) Toklas (1877) (books by this author). Though she is best known as Gertrude Stein’s partner, she also wrote three books, none of which is The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas — that was the title Gertrude Stein gave her own autobiography, written from the point of view of her lover. And the term “lover” is unduly limiting: Toklas was also Stein’s typist, cook, secretary, editor, critic, housekeeper, and co-host of a series of salons that included such luminaries as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, and Matisse.
A love of Henry James inspired her to visit Europe, and that’s where she met Stein, who was living in Paris, in 1907. They were together until Stein’s death in 1946. Toklas published The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook in 1954; it was a collection of recipes gleaned from her friends, seasoned liberally with reminiscences of her life with Stein. Its most notorious recipe was donated by avant-garde artist and poet Brion Gysin, and in his introduction to the recipe he promises “euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better.” The recipe was for “Haschich [Hashish] Fudge,” and though Toklas claimed she never tested it, it led some readers to speculate about the role that cannabis had played in Stein’s more abstract verses.”
And it’s the birthday of author John Boyne (books by this author), born in Dublin in 1971. He knew he wanted to be a writer ever since he was about 14, and after college, where he studied literature and creative writing, he took a job at Waterstone’s bookstore in Dublin. He’d write for a few hours each morning, and then edit between customers at the cash register. After publication of his third novel, he was able to quit his bookselling job and write full-time.
He’s published eleven novels for adults, including The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2006), which he wrote a draft of in two and a half days. He told an interviewer, “On Tuesday night I had the idea. On Wednesday morning I started writing, and by Friday lunchtime I had the first draft.”
Charles Dickens‘ A Tale of Two Cities (books by this author) was first published in serial form on this date in 1859. It appeared in the first issue of a new weekly journal, All the Year Round, which Dickens founded himself.
A Tale of Two Cities was on the front page of the first issue, and thanks to Dickens’ popularity, it sold 125,000 copies. At the end of the journal’s first quarter, Dickens wrote in a letter, “So well has All the Year Round gone that it was yesterday able to repay me, with five per cent. interest, all the money I advanced for its establishment (paper, print etc. all paid, down to the last number), and yet to leave a good £500 balance at the banker’s!” Dickens was so encouraged by its success that he also serialized Great Expectations in the journal, beginning in December of 1860.
Dickens published All the Year Round until his death in 1870. After that time, his son, Charles Dickens Jr., took up the reins, editing the journal until 1895. During its 36-year run, it featured the work of Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and several others.
A Tale of Two Cities begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
It’s the birthday of nature writer Annie Dillard (books by this author), born Ann Doak in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1945). She began writing poetry in high school, and then studied English in college. After writing a master’s thesis on Thoreau’s Walden, she moved to a cabin in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. There she wrote poetry and also kept a daily journal of her observations of nature and her thoughts about God and religion. She wrote in old notebooks and on four-by-six-inch index cards, and when she was ready to transform the journal into a book, she had 1,100 entries. “By the time I finished the book, I weighed about 98 pounds,” Dillard said. “I never went to bed. I would write all night until the sun was almost coming up.”
The result, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, was published in 1974, and Annie Dillard received her first literary award the following year: the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. She was only 29 years old.
Anne Frank‘s diary (books by this author) was first published in English on this date in 1952. What’s now known as Diary of a Young Girl was first published in Dutch in 1947, under the title The Secret Annex (Het Achterhuis in Dutch). Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp about two weeks before the camps were liberated in 1945. After the war, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was given the diary, along with some other papers, which had been left behind when the family was taken in 1944. He wasn’t able to read it for a while because it was too painful, but when he did, he believed that his daughter meant the diary to be published. There were two versions of the diary: the “A” version, which was made up of spontaneous journal entries; and the “B” version, rewritten by Anne herself, possibly with an eye to publication. Her father edited the two together into a “C” version. He left out five pages of Anne’s original “A” version, pages in which she described the progress of her sexual development, and ranted about her mother. The lost pages were restored in a definitive edition, which was published in 1995.
Sixteen different American publishers rejected the English translation before Doubleday picked it up in 1952; one reader at Alfred A. Knopf dismissed the book as “very dull” and “a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances, and adolescent emotions.”