Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Maryville, TN for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Iola, KS for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Bellefontaine, OH for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
by Christopher Wiseman
The farm is gone. The Comer farm is gone.
Your mother’s brother, Uncle Joe, has sold it.
He’s old now and his kids don’t want to farm,
Have different lives in towns. He has coins, too,
From Somerset. His grandfather’s. We sit for the last
Time in the farm kitchen, driven for days
To get here before he finally moves out,
Summer lightning starting, the way it does,
The evening air heavy, full of growth.
Joe will move. There’s sadness in us all.
And you, my wife, drinking all of this in,
Talking about our children, asking Joe
About the Iowa you left, the people,
The whole big thing that was your life, your childhood.
You used to bike here, on the gravel roads,
From Cascade, for lemonade and ice cream, to see
The barns, the animals. Back in the fifties.
He got to here from Somerset, that man.
Joe talks about the richness of the soil,
Blizzards, tornadoes, heat beyond belief,
Guesses about ships and wagons, breaking the land,
Clearing stones from grass. His grandfather.
What will you do without the farm, you ask him.
I’ll be fine, he says. Live somewhere else.
Christopher Wiseman, “Farley, Iowa” from the longer poem “Standing by Stones” from Crossing the Salt Flats. © 1999 Christopher Wiseman published by The Porcupine’s Quill. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the novelist Jack London (books by this author), born in San Francisco (1876). He is best known as the author of over fifty books, including The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906). His best-known short story is “To Build a Fire.”
London was mostly self-educated. He worked on a sealing schooner off the coast of Japan in 1893. When he returned to America there were no jobs and he became a vagrant. In his memoir, The Road (1907), London wrote about those days, including the tricks he used to evade train crews when he stowed away, and how he convinced strangers to buy meals for him. He even spent thirty days in jail in Buffalo, New York, before returning to California. Then he met a librarian named Ina Coolbrith at the Oakland Public Library. London called her his “literary mother.”
London graduated from high school in Oakland and then spent a year at the University of California before poverty forced him again to seek his living through adventure. He sailed to Alaska to join the Klondike Gold Rush and when this did not make him rich, London turned to writing and began seriously to seek publication for his stories.
He came close to abandoning a career in writing when The Overland Monthly was slow to pay for a story they had accepted. But he was saved, both “literally and literarily,” when The Black Cat accepted his story “A Thousand Deaths” and paid him forty dollars to publish it. In 1900, London’s short story “An Odyssey of the North” appeared in The Atlantic Monthly.
Around this time London also became vocal as a socialist. In 1896 the San Francisco Chronicle printed a story about London giving speeches on socialism in Oakland’s City Hall Park. He was arrested for this practice in 1897. He ran for mayor of Oakland as a socialist in 1901 and 1905 and published several essays on socialism, including Revolution, and Other Essays (1910).
Murakami is the child of Japanese literature teachers but he was more interested in American literature as a boy. He studied literature and drama at Waseda University in Tokyo and, after graduation, Murakami operated a jazz bar called the “Peter Cat” in Tokyo for eight years. During this time he became familiar with Western music and that is why so many of his novels have musical themes.
Murakami did not write at all until after age 30. He claims that he was inspired to write his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing (1979), while watching a baseball game. He worked on the novel for many months, usually after finishing his workdays at the jazz club, and the finished book had short chapters and a fragmented style. Murakami sent the novel to a writing contest and won first prize.
He published Norwegian Wood (1987) which sold millions of copies in Japan and made Murakami a literary sensation. To escape the fame he and his wife lived abroad for several years, in Europe and in the United States, where Murakami taught at Princeton University. They returned to Japan in 1995. In 2002 he published Kafka on the Shore, a novel John Updike called “a real page-turner, as well as an insistently metaphysical mind-bender.” It’s about a teenager named Kafka Tamura, a “cool, tall, 15-year-old boy lugging a backpack and a bunch of obsessions.”
Haruki Murakami said, “I write weird stories. Myself, I’m a very realistic person. […] I wake up at six in the morning and go to bed at 10, jogging every day and swimming, eating healthy food. […] But when I write, I write weird.”
It’s the birthday of the man who has given us the novels of Easy Rawlins and Fearless Jones, Walter Mosley (books by this author), born in Los Angeles (1952). His father was black and his mother came from a family of Russian Jews. When he was growing up Mosley loved to listen to the stories his relatives told on both sides of the family. His mother’s relatives talked about life in Russia and his father’s relatives talked about life in the South.
After riots erupted in his neighborhood, while he was still in high school, Mosley decided that he wanted to get as far away from Watts as he could. So he went to a small college in Vermont. He bounced around in a variety of jobs for a while, selling pottery and then working as a computer programmer. Then, in 1982, he read Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple. He later said, “I’d read a lot of the French [novelists] — Camus and all that — and I love their writing. But I couldn’t write like that. Then, when I read Walker, I thought, ‘Oh, I could do this.'”
He began writing a novel about a character named Easy Rawlins, living in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and the result was his book Devil in a Blue Dress (1990). It’s the story of a black World War II veteran who’s just been laid off from his job when a white man hires him to find a white woman who’s known to frequent the black community. It became a best-seller, and Mosley has written several more novels featuring Easy Rawlins.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®