Mar. 9, 1998

Turning Thirty

by Katha Pollitt


Today's Reading: "Turning Thirty" by Katha Pollitt from ANTARCTIC TRAVELER, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

It's the birthday of novelist Frank Morrison, better known as MICKEY SPILLANE, born in Brooklyn, in 1918. In 1946 he was 28 years old, newly married and needing a thousand dollars to buy a piece of land. He decided that the fastest way to get it was to write a novel. He dashed off a detective story in three weeks called I, the Jury and sent it to Dutton Publishing House. The editors thought it was kind of tasteless and violent, but they agreed to pick it up because they thought it might sell. Eight million copies later, I, the Jury is still selling.

ULYSSES S. GRANT, was named the head of all the Union armies on this date in 1864. He'd worked his way up the ranks and the year before had led the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi which essentially cut the Confederacy in half.

It's the birthday of the Italian explorer AMERIGO VESPUCCI in Florence, 1451. In 1501 he made a journey west. He reached Brazil early the next year and continued down the coast of Argentina. By the time he got back to Portugal a year later, he was convinced that these lands weren't a part of Asia, but what he called in his diary, "A New World." Six years later a German mapmaker printed a little pamphlet suggesting that the new lands be called "from Amerigo the discoverer . . . as if it were the land of Americus or America."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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