Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL 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. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
by Lisel Mueller
Strange, how they got their name—
a boy, barely a man,
looked into sunlit water
and saw himself so beautiful
he spent his life pursuing
that treacherous reflection.
There is no greater loneliness.
Here they are, risen
from the darkness of the pebbled pool
we have made for them in a dish—
risen and broken through
the long, green capsules
to show us their faces:
they are so delicate they invite
protection or violation,
and they are blind.
Lisel Mueller, “Paper-White Narcissus” from Alive Together. © 1996 Louisiana State University Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated on this date in 1933. By the time of his inauguration, the country had been mired in the Great Depression for more than three years. Roosevelt won in a landslide over Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover.
Most Americans didn’t know the extent to which Roosevelt’s paralytic illness had affected him, and he took great pains to keep it that way. In order for him to ascend the steps to the podium to take the oath of office an elaborate series of wheelchair-accessible ramps was constructed and hidden behind barriers. He walked the last few yards leaning heavily on the arm of his son James and he made it look easy, even though it took great strength.
His inaugural address included the famous phrase “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Frances Perkins took her post as U.S. Secretary of Labor on this date in 1933. She was the first woman to serve on an American president’s cabinet. She had become involved in politics after witnessing the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in 1911. It was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in American history: nearly 150 garment workers died. Perkins made workplace safety her first political cause and helped draft many fire regulations that are still followed today. Franklin Roosevelt, who at that time was serving as governor of New York, named her to his Industrial Commission and he relied heavily on her advice throughout his career. Before he began his first term as president he offered her the cabinet post; she told him she would accept if he would agree to let her address several labor problems that she felt needed fixing. Roosevelt agreed.
Oswald Garrison Villard, the editor of The Nation, praised FDR for his choice, predicting that Perkins would prove to be “an angel at the Cabinet in contrast with the sordidness and inhumanity of her predecessors.” But many people, including labor union bosses, opposed the nomination of a woman to the post. Perkins believed men were more amenable to women who reminded them of their mothers, so she dressed modestly and rarely wore makeup. She kept quiet in meetings. She later recalled:
“I tried to have as much of a mask as possible. I wanted to give the impression of being a quiet, orderly woman who didn’t buzz-buzz all the time. […] I knew that a lady interposing an idea into men’s conversation is very unwelcome. I just proceeded on the theory that this was a gentleman’s conversation on the porch of a golf club perhaps. You didn’t butt in with bright ideas.”
Her policies did away with child labor in the United States. They also led the way to the 40-hour workweek, the Federal Labor Standards Act, and Social Security — and they formed a large part of the New Deal.
It’s the birthday of Khaled Hosseini (books by this author), born in Kabul (1965), author of the runaway best-selling novel The Kite Runner (2003), which has sold more than 12 million copies around the world.
He’s the son of a diplomat and his affluent family immigrated to the United States around the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, receiving political asylum as members of Afghanistan’s government were being executed. They landed in San Jose, California, when Khaled was 12, with nearly nothing.
His diplomat father found work as a driving instructor in San Jose and the family was forced to go on welfare. Khaled deferred his childhood dream of being a writer, feeling like he had to have a career that guaranteed a healthy income. So he went to medical school, made it through his residency, and had settled into a job as an internist when he began to think about writing again. He got up at 5 every morning so he could write for two hours before he went to the hospital. He wrote about his memories of Afghanistan, which were all good; they’d made it out of the country just before the Soviet invasion. He wrote a story about a friendship between an eight-year-old boy, the son of an Afghan diplomat, and one of the family’s servants, an illiterate man from an ethnic minority group. The young prosperous son teaches the servant to read and write, and the servant teaches the child to fly kites.
When the book was all written and in the publisher’s hands he took a trip back to Kabul for the first time in 27 years. When he’d left it was a thriving affluent cosmopolitan city, but it had since spent decades in war. He knew it would be bad but what he found was even worse than he expected. He walked the streets of his old hometown, now ravaged by war and with burqa-clad women and children all over the streets begging for money, people paralyzed by shrapnel, prevailing destitution and despair. He said, “I felt like a tourist in my own country.”
He said that because his first book had been so phenomenally successful and expectations were so high, with a book contract and anxious publishers and booksellers, he had a bit of a hard time getting started on the writing of his second book. He was plagued by self-doubt about his literary capabilities and whether he could measure up to his debut success. He said that he has “this almost pathological fear of boring the reader.” But eventually, he found his way into the rhythm of the story and into the inner lives of his characters. His second novel is a more ambitious book then his first, with lots of main characters, not at all autobiographical, multigenerational, and told from alternating points of view of two female narrators, their thoughts intertwined with a historical narrative of Afghanistan’s past three decades. The women weren’t based on anyone he knew exactly, though were inspired by stories of people he’d encountered on his trip to Kabul. To get into his protagonists’ mindset he even tried on a burqa when no one was around, “just to see what it felt like.” He said, “It steals your breath away. It’s really hard to get used to.”
A Thousand Splendid Suns, the story narrated by Afghani women Mariam and Laila, was published in mid-2007. The book was also hugely successful and was Britain’s best-selling book in 2008. The title is an English translation from a 17th-century poem in Farsi; the Persian poet had written verses describing the splendor he’d experienced upon journeying to Kabul.
Hosseini’s latest novel, Sea Prayer, came out in 2018.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®