Jun. 16, 1998


by David Lee


Today's Reading: "Lazy" by David Lee from MY TOWN, published by Copper Canyon Press.

It's BLOOMSDAY today in Dublin, Ireland, the setting of James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses. The book takes place in a single day, June 16, 1904, and details the life in Dublin of Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising canvasser, his wife, Molly, and Stephen Dedalus. Though the action takes place in one day, the book took Joyce eight years to write. In Dublin today, people dress up like characters in the novel, and there are readings of Ulysses in museums and theaters.

It's the birthday in 1938, in the Erie Canal town of Millersport, New York, of writer JOYCE CAROL OATES. When she was in high school she started writing at a terrific pace, something she keeps up today. She teaches at Princeton, and has more than 20 short story collections now, a half-dozen collections of essays and criticism. Some of the best known novels are: Them (1969), Bellefleur (1980), and What I Lived For (1994). Her most recent, novel number 26, came out last fall: We Were the Mulvaneys, set on a farm in upstate New York and following a family through 25 years of prosperity and ruin.

It's the birthday in 1938, in Västerbottenk, in the far north of Sweden, of novelist and poet TORGNY LINDGREN, author of novels like The Way of the Serpent (1990) and short story collections like Merab's Beauty (1990), both of which have been translated into English.

It's the birthday in Gothenburg, 1925, of the Swedish writer OSTEN SJOSTRAND, best known as a poet and author of, in English translation, The Hidden Music, but also famous in Sweden for his essays and criticism.

It's the birthday of KATHARINE GRAHAM, born in New York, 1917, former publisher The Washington Post and the recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography for her book Personal History. She said her "credentials were pathetically thin" when she took over the Post in 1963 after her husband's suicide. She'd been on the editorial staff of the paper, but had also been busy raising four children and keeping a house going while her husband was president of the paper. She was at the helm during the Pentagon Papers affair in 1971, and when reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal in 1972.

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




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
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