Jul. 23, 1998
Today's Reading: "Moving In" by Carl Shapiro from THE WILD CARD: SELECTED POEMS, EARLY AND LATE, published by University of Illinois Press.
The BIX BEIDERBECKE JAZZ FESTIVAL gets underway today in Bix's hometown of Davenport, Iowa, and runs through the weekend. It kicks off tonight with a concert at the Call Ballroom where Bix played as a teenager before he took off for Chicago.
It's LISA ALTHER'S birthday, born in the northeastern Tennessee town of Kingsport, 1944, and best known for the 1976 novel Kinflicks, a book about Ginny Babcock, her dying mother, and coming of age in the 1960s.
It's the birthday in London, 1907 of the British author ELSPETH HUXLEY, author of several novels and essays on Africa her best-known, The Flame Trees of Thika which came out in 1959. When she was five years old, the family moved to a 500-acre coffee plantation in Kenya, and she said, "I had never before seen heat, as you can see smoke or rain. But there it was, jigging and quavering above brown grasses and spiky thorn-trees and flaring erythrinas."
It's the birthday in Chicago, 1888, of RAYMOND CHANDLER, author of hard-boiled 1930s and '40s detective novels like The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely. A master of the simile, he wrote things like "I thought he was as crazy as a pair of waltzing mice, but I like him."
ULYSSES S. GRANT DIED on this day in 1885, at a cottage at Mount McGregor in the New York Adirondacks. He'd gotten into financial trouble late in life and a year before he died he began writing his memoirs so his family wouldn't be strapped after he was gone. He finished them just before he died from cancer of the throat on July 23rd, and his friend Mark Twain published them not long after. Grant said near the end: "The fact is I think I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun. A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; or to suffer. I signify all three."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®