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+
At the Vet’s
by Maura Stanton
The German shepherd can’t lift his hindquarters
off the tiled floor. His middle-aged owner
heaves his dog over his shoulder, and soon
two sad voices drift from the exam room
discussing heart failure, kidneys, and old age
while a rushing woman pants into the office
grasping a terrier with trembling legs
she found abandoned in a drainage ditch.
It’s been abused, she says, and sits down,
The terrier curled in her lap, quaking
as the memory of something bad returns and returns.
She strokes its ears, whispering endearments
while my two cats, here for routine checkups,
peer through the mesh of their old green carrier,
the smell of fear so strong on their damp fur
I taste it as I breathe. Soon the woman,
Like the receptionist with her pen in mid-air,
Is listening, too, hushed by the duet
swelling in volume now, the vet’s soprano
counterpointed by the owner’s baritone
as he pleads with her to give him hope, the vet
trying to be kind, rephrasing the truth
over and over until it becomes a lie
they both pretend to accept. The act’s over.
His dog’s to stay behind for ultrasound
and kidney tests, and the man, his face
whipped by grief as if he were caught in a wind,
hurries past us and out the front door,
leaving the audience—cats, terrier, people—
sunk in their places, too stunned to applaud.
Maura Stanton, “At the Vet’s” from Immortal Sofa. © 2008 by Maura Stanton. Used with permission of the University of Illinois Press. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of French playwright Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais, (books by this author) born in Paris (1732). Today, we remember him for three plays he wrote about a clever barber named Figaro, who always saved the day, in the plays Le Barbier de Seville (The Barber of Seville, 1775), Le Mariage de Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1784), and La Mère Coupable (The Guilty Mother, 1795).
He said, “Where love is concerned, too much is not even enough.”
It’s the birthday of the novelist Edith Wharton, (books by this author) born Edith Newbold Jones in New York City in 1862. She came from a privileged family, and in fact many people think that the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” was a reference to her family, one of the most important of Old New York society.
Edith spent much of her childhood in Europe, and she enjoyed writing, and published some of her poems. She completed a novella called Fast and Loose when she was 15. But when she was 17, it was time for her “coming out” in society. And when she was 23, she got married to a wealthy man named Edward Wharton. With him, she could enjoy the lifestyle she loved, time to travel and time to write. But the marriage was an unhappy one. Edward did not understand his wife’s literary or intellectual interests, and throughout their marriage he drank more and more. Edith was depressed, and so she focused even more on writing and published her first book, a book about architecture that she wrote with Ogden Codman Jr.: The Decoration of Houses (1898).
The Decoration of Houses was a big success and gave Wharton the confidence to move on to fiction, and she published several books of stories and novels. But her novels were historical fiction and didn’t do very well. Her friend Henry James encouraged her to write what she knew, about being a woman in New York society, about the clash between old money and new money that had come with the Gilded Age. James said, “There it is round you. Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours, the novelist’s that it waits for. Take hold of it and keep hold, and let it pull you where it will.”
Soon after, she published her first major novel, The House of Mirth (1905), about a woman named Lily Bart who is torn between her desire for the superficial pleasures of society life and an innocent belief in love and a moral code. She followed that effort with The Age of Innocence, and it won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She was the first woman to receive that award.
It’s the birthday of comedian John Belushi, born in Chicago (1949). He started out with the Second City comedy group in Chicago, then moved to “National Lampoon’s Lemmings,” and eventually to “Saturday Night Live.” He starred in films like Animal House (1978) and The Blues Brothers (1980). He died in 1982 of a drug overdose, at age 33.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®