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+
Rental Cottage, Maine
by Karen Paul Holmes
We thought we were the perfect family—
loyal, stable, a brick wall you couldn’t topple
with a wrecking ball. Parents dependable
as the frozen Minute Maid juice
we squeezed from cardboard cans and drank
We’d come to this place just to be together.
October in Ogunquit, record heat,
no need for the sweaters we’d packed.
Dad had died but Mom, in her 80s, sat
pouring green tea, our wicker chairs
on the small porch, six sets
of knees touching.
She didn’t mean to mention
Dad’s first wife.
To our collective what?
she sputtered lasted a year, before the war,
her name: Phyllis.
Remember that chest in the basement?
It was hers.
Some moments passed, then mutely
we agreed to let it go.
Radium glowed green in our brains
but didn’t burn. The knowing, a relief:
We didn’t have to be perfect.
The August-warm wind felt pleasant
and odd. We sat on that porch,
orange leaves pinwheeling down the street.
“Rental Cottage, Maine” by Karen Paul Holmes from No Such Thing as Distance. © Terrapin Books, 2018. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the writer who said: “A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.” That’s Oscar Wilde (books by this author), born in Dublin (1854). He wrote just one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and in the preface to it, he wrote: “All art is quite useless.” A student at Oxford named Bernulf Clegg was intrigued by that statement, and he wrote to Wilde and asked him what he meant by it.
“My dear Sir
Art is useless because its aim is simply to create a mood. It is not meant to instruct, or to influence action in any way. It is superbly sterile, and the note of its pleasure is sterility. If the contemplation of a work of art is followed by activity of any kind, the work is either of a very second-rate order, or the spectator has failed to realize the complete artistic impression.
A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse. All this is I fear very obscure. But the subject is a long one.
It’s the birthday of German novelist Günter Grass (books by this author), born in Danzig, Germany (1927), which is now Gdansk, Poland. He has written many novels, but is probably most famous for his first, The Tin Drum (1959), about a three-year-old boy who refuses to grow up so that he can escape the horrors of Nazi Germany.
Grass’s parents ran a grocery store, but week after week they barely broke even. All of Günter’s friends got allowances, but he never got anything. Finally, after he had pestered his mother so many times she couldn’t stand it anymore, she gave him the list of everyone who bought food on credit and owed the store money, and told her son to walk around the town asking them to repay their debt; if you can collect the money, she said, I’ll give you a percentage of it. So he became a successful debt collector — and finally got an allowance — when he was about 10 years old. Also when he was 10, he joined the Jungvolk, the junior version of Hitler’s youth group, and then became part of Hitler Youth. He volunteered for submarine service, and at the age of 17 he was drafted into the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite corps.
Throughout his career, it was public knowledge that Grass was part of the Hitler Youth and the army, but the fact that he was a member of the Waffen-SS did not emerge until he published his memoir Peeling the Onion in 2007. People were outraged.
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