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 Jane Hirshfield
Each night you come home with five continents on your hands:
garlic, olive oil, saffron, anise, coriander, tea,
your fingernails blackened with marjoram and thyme.
Sometimes the zucchini’s flesh seems like a fish-steak,
cut into neat filets, or the salt-rubbed eggplant
yields not bitter water, but dark mystery.
You cut everything into bits.
No core, no kernel, no seed is sacred: you cut
onions for hours and do not cry,
cut them to thin transparencies, the red ones
spreading before you like fallen flowers;
you cut scallions from white to green, you cut
radishes, apples, broccoli, you cut oranges, watercress,
romaine, you cut your fingers, you cut and cut
beyond the heart of things, where
nothing remains, and you cut that too, scoring coup
on the butcherblock, leaving your mark,
when you go
your feet are as pounded as brioche dough.
“Cook” by Jane Hirshfield, from Of Gravity and Angels. © Wesleyan University Press, 1988. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is Thanksgiving Day, the day Americans express gratitude for their good fortune by eating one of the biggest meals of the year. As early as 1621, the Puritan colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts, set aside a day of thanks for a bountiful harvest.
It’s the birthday of novelist Marilynne Robinson (books by this author), born in Sandpoint, Idaho (1943). Her first novel, Housekeeping (1980), is the story of two sisters in a town called Fingerbone, Idaho; their mother dies by suicide and their aunt, an eccentric drifter, moves back to town to take care of them. Housekeeping got good reviews but didn’t sell very well.
Robinson got a teaching fellowship at the University of Kent in England. She was alarmed to learn about a nuclear facility that was dumping toxic waste into the Irish Sea, while local children suffered from unusually high rates of cancer. She wrote Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989), criticizing Britain for not caring enough. She said: “I began what amounted to an effort to reeducate myself. After all those years of school, I felt there was little I knew that I could trust, and I did not want my books to be one more tributary to the sea of nonsense that really is what most conventional wisdom amounts to.”
She went back to teaching at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and she immersed herself in reading. For years, she read journals and books about the early days of Iowa. She published a book of essays about theology. Then, almost 25 years after Housekeeping, Robinson published a second novel, called Gilead (2004). Set in 1956, the novel is a series of letters from a dying 76-year-old Congregationalist pastor in the town of Gilead, Iowa; the letters are all written to his seven-year-old son. A few years later, she published a third novel, Home (2008), a companion book to Gilead.
In Gilead, she wrote: “Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. All it needs from you is that you take care not to trample on it.”
Her most recent novel is Jack, published in September of this year.
It’s the birthday of cartoonist Charles Schulz (books by this author), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1922). His parents left school after third grade, and his father was a barber who supported the family on 35-cent haircuts. Every Sunday, Schulz and his father read the “funny pages” together, and the boy hoped to become a cartoonist someday. But he had a tough time in school — he felt picked on by teachers and other students. He was smart enough to skip ahead a couple of grades, but that only made it worse. He wished someone would recognize his artistic talent, but his cartoons weren’t even accepted by the high school yearbook.
After high school, he was drafted into the Army; his mother died of cancer a couple of days before he left. When he came home, he moved in with his father in the apartment above the barbershop. He got a job teaching at Art Instruction, a correspondence course for cartooning that he had taken as a high schooler. There he fell in love with a red-haired woman named Donna Mae Johnson, who worked in the accounting department. They dated for a while, but when he asked her to marry him, she turned him down and soon after married someone else. Schulz was devastated and remained bitter about it for the rest of his life. He said: “I can think of no more emotionally damaging loss than to be turned down by someone whom you love very much. A person who not only turns you down, but almost immediately will marry the victor. What a bitter blow that is.”
Schulz started publishing a cartoon strip called L’il Folks in the local paper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but they dropped it after a couple of years. Schulz sent some of his favorite L’il Folks cartoons to the United Features Syndicate, and in 1950, the first Peanuts strip appeared in seven national newspapers. The first strip introduced Charlie Brown, and Snoopy made an appearance two days later. The rest of the Peanuts characters were added slowly over the years: Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, Pig Pen, Peppermint Patty, and many more. Throughout the years, the object of Charlie Brown’s unrequited love is known simply as The Little Red-Haired Girl.
Peanuts was eventually syndicated in more than 2,500 newspapers worldwide, and there were more than 300 million Peanuts books sold, as well as 40 TV specials, four movies, and a Broadway play.
Charles Schulz said: “My whole life has been one of rejection. Women. Dogs. Comic strips.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®