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+
by Marie Howe
The delivery man slowly climbs
the five steep flights of stairs
as I lean down to watch him walking up
as he’s talking on the phone
and now he pauses
on the third-floor landing
to touch a little Christmas light
the girl had wrapped around the banister—
speaking to someone in a language
so melodic I ask him what—
when he hands the package up to me,
and he says Patois—from Jamaica—
smiling up at me from where he’s standing
on the landing
a smile so radiant that
re-entering the apartment I’m
a young woman again, and
the sweetness of the men I’ve loved walks in,
through the closed door
one of them right now,
kicking the snow off his boots,
turning to take my face in his cold hands,
kissing me now with his cold mouth.
Marie Howe, “Delivery” from MAGDALENE published by W.W. Norton Publishing Company. © Marie Howe, 2017 used with permission from the Clegg Literary Agency. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of writer and illustrator Dr. Seuss (books by this author), born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts (1904). He went to Dartmouth College where he was editor in chief of his college’s humor magazine. One night he was caught drinking gin in his room with a group of friends, which was not only against the school rules but also illegal under Prohibition. He wasn’t kicked out, but he had to resign from all his extra-curricular activities, including the humor magazine. Geisel couldn’t quite accept this turn of events, so he continued contributing to the magazine but used a pseudonym: “Seuss.” It was his middle name and his mother’s maiden name.
After Dartmouth, he went to England to attend Oxford University, but he dropped out. For the next decade or so he published cartoons in magazines and made most of his money creating ads for Standard Oil. His best-known Standard Oil campaign was for Flit, a mosquito insecticide, which he advertised with the slogan “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”
In the fall of 1936, he was coming home from Europe, stuck below deck during a long rainy stretch. He started making up words to fit the rhythm of the ship’s engine, and the poem he composed in his head became his first children’s book: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937). His manuscript was rejected more than 20 times; editors disliked the fantasy, the exuberant language, and the lack of clear morals. One day, after receiving yet another rejection, he finally decided to give up and burn his manuscript. He was thinking about this as he walked down Madison Avenue in New York when he bumped into an old classmate from Dartmouth who had recently become a children’s book editor for Vanguard Press. After hearing his story the classmate took Geisel back to his office and introduced him to some executives, and it wasn’t long before he had a book deal. He said later, “If I had been walking down the other side of Madison Avenue, I’d be in the dry-cleaning business today.” For the next 20 years, Geisel continued to publish children’s books and work on cartoons and ad campaigns, and he drew posters for the war effort during World War II.
His other books include The Cat in the Hat (1957), Horton Hatches the Egg (1940), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Hop on Pop (1963), and The Lorax (1971).
He said, “I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”
It’s the birthday of American novelist and screenwriter John Irving (books by this author), born John Wallace Blunt, Jr., in Exeter, New Hampshire (1942). Irving is best known for his novels The World According to Garp (1978), The Hotel New Hampshire (1981), and The Cider House Rules (1985), sprawling, Dickensian novels that examine questions of sexuality, morality, and death.
Irving keeps a practiced routine when he writes. He sits at an L-shaped desk surrounded by notepads and notebooks and writes his books by hand before typing them.
“I have lots of notebooks around, because one great advantage of writing by hand — in addition to how much it slows you down — is that it makes me write at the speed that I feel I should be composing, rather than faster than I can think, which is what happens to me on any keyboard.”
It’s the birthday of journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe (books by this author), born in Richmond, Virginia (1930). He is the author of the novels The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), A Man in Full (1998), I am Charlotte Simmons (2004), and Back to Blood (2012), a story about Cuban immigrants in Miami. He said, “The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book, and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.”
The historian Meredith Hindley credits Wolfe with introducing the terms “statusphere”, “the right stuff”, “radical chic”, “the Me Decade” and “good ol’ boy” into the English lexicon.
According to journalism professor Ben Yagoda, Wolfe is also responsible for the use of the present tense in magazine profile pieces; before he began doing so in the early 1960s, profile articles had always been written in the past tense.
Tom Wolfe died in 2018. His final book was a non-fiction critique of Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky, The Kingdom of Speech (2016).
It’s the birthday of Sholem Aleichem (books by this author), born in Pereyaslav, Ukraine (1859). He is one of the world’s most prolific and widely read Yiddish-language writers. He was the son of a lumber merchant. His given name was Solomon Rabinowitz, but he adopted a pen name because many of his friends and relatives disapproved of his decision to write in Yiddish, the colloquial language of Eastern European Jews, rather than in Hebrew, the language of intellectuals and liturgy. So he chose the name Sholem Aleichem, which comes from a Hebrew greeting meaning “peace be with you.”
Sholem Aleichem wrote many stories about Tevye the milkman, and they were the inspiration for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof.
He and his wife had six children and he had to write constantly in order to make ends meet for his family. He toured all over Europe and America giving lectures. He lived in Germany, in Denmark, and finally in the United States. He died at the age of 57 in New York City. One hundred thousand mourners lined the streets on the day of his funeral.
He said, “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.”
And, “No matter how bad things get, you got to go on living, even if it kills you.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®