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+
My Father Was a Young Man Then
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Only 16, when he came from Italy alone,
moved into the Riverside neighborhood
full of Italians from Cilento—all of whom
spoke the same dialect, so it was as though
they had transported those mountain villages
to Paterson. At first, America was terrifying,
English, a language they could not master,
but my father was a young man
and he became friends with other young people
and they learned how to take buses and trains
or to borrow a car, and off they’d go
on the weekend to Rye Brook or Coney Island,
free from their factory jobs on the weekends,
reveling in the strength of their bodies,
the laughter and music and the company.
My father was a young man then,
and even when he died at 92,
he never lost the happiness
that bubbled up in him,
the irrepressible joy of being alive,
the love of being with friends.
I imagine him in that time
before he married my mother,
before we were born,
before he had a tumor on his spine
that left him with a limp.
Imagine him with his broad smile,
his booming laugh, his generous spirit,
his sharp intelligence,
imagine him as a young man,
his head full of dreams,
his love of politics and math,
the way he carried those qualities
all the way into old age,
though his legs failed him,
though his body grew trembling and frail,
his mind never did.
When I’d arrive at the house
all those years after mom died, he’d smile
at me with real pleasure,
the young man he was at 16 would emerge,
sit in the room with us
“My Father Was a Young Man Then” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan from What Blooms in Winter. © NYQ Books, 2016. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the anniversary of the 1895 publication of Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage (books by this author), the story of Civil War private Henry Fleming. The story begins late at night around a campfire: “The youth was in a little trance of astonishment. So tomorrow they were at last going to fight. There would be a battle, and he would be in it. For a time he was obliged to labor to make himself believe. He could not accept with assurance an omen that he was about to mingle in one of those great affairs of the earth. He had dreamed of battles all his life.”
Today is the birthday of etiquette expert Emily Post (books by this author), born Emily Price in Baltimore, Maryland (1873). She started writing to support herself and her two sons; her marriage had broken up in 1905 when her husband lost his fortune in a stock panic and it came out that he had been having affairs with a series of showgirls. Post wrote articles about architecture and interior design, and published several novels. One day, an editor suggested that she write an etiquette manual, because her novels were full of observations about etiquette. She thought etiquette manuals were awful, so she set out to write one that was more about treating people decently rather than just following rules. The result was her book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home (1922), and she wrote about etiquette for the rest of her life.
Emily Post, who said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Today is the birthday of the cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman (books by this author), born in Brooklyn, New York (1924). In 1952, Kurtzman became the founding editor of Mad magazine, and even though he remained with the magazine for only its first few issues, he set the tone and style that became its trademark. It was the first media product that earned its bread and butter by parodying other media products.
It’s the birthday of the man who said, “Fifty percent of people won’t vote, and fifty percent don’t read newspapers. I hope it’s the same fifty percent.” That’s Gore Vidal (books by this author), born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where his father was an instructor (1925).
He’s well known for his works of historical fiction — such as Julian (1964), Burr (1973), and Lincoln (1984). And his 1968 novel Myra Breckenridge was an international best-seller.
In the mid-1950s he branched out even further, writing a series of potboiler mysteries under the pen name “Edgar Box.” He also produced 20 dramas and literary adaptations for television. He adapted one of his original teleplays, Visit to a Small Planet (1955), for the stage, and it became a hit on Broadway; he also wrote several original and adapted screenplays in Hollywood. Near the end of his life, he announced that he’d given up the long-form novel, preferring to focus on nonfiction. He wrote two memoirs (Palimpsest in 1995 and Point to Point Navigation in 2006), and several book-length essays on American history and politics.
He died of pneumonia in 2012.
It’s the birthday of Thomas Wolfe (books by this author), born in Asheville, North Carolina (1900). He originally wanted to be a playwright, and he wrote and acted in several plays at the University of North Carolina and, later, at Harvard. He moved to New York in 1923 and taught playwriting at New York University’s Washington Square College; it was on a trip abroad in 1926 that he first turned to fiction and began what would become his most famous novel, Look Homeward, Angel (1929). The book, like his later work, was a thinly veiled autobiography, and his depictions of people and places caused a fair amount of turmoil in his family and among the citizens of Asheville.
Thomas Wolfe wrote, “All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®