Aug. 2, 1998


by Mark Doty


Today's Reading: "No" by Mark Doty from MY ALEXANDRIA published by University of Illinois Press.

It's the birthday in London, 1943, of ROSE TREMAIN (truh-MANE), who wrote the novels Sadler's Birthday (1976), Letter to Sister Benedicta (1978), and The Cupboard (1981), books about lonely characters trying to get out of their circumstances.

It's the birthday in Lima, Peru, 1942, of writer ISABEL ALLENDE (ah-YEN-day), author of The House of the Spirits, which came out in 1982. She worked as a journalist in Chile before fleeing to Venezuela in1973 when her uncle, the Chilean president Salvador Allende Gossens, was assassinated. The House of the Spirits actually began as a letter to her grandfather then evolved into the story of several generations of the Latin American family, the Trueba's. Her other novels include Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, and The Infinite Plan.

It's the birthday in New York, 1924, of writer JAMES BALDWIN, who grew up in Harlem and spent some of his teen years as a revival preacher, then later put those experiences in his first book, the semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953). His other books include Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name, and The Fire Next Time.

Lewis Carroll's ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND came out in London on this day in 1865 – the story of Alice, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, and everybody else Alice meets after going through a rabbit hole in the ground. Two thousand copies were printed initially, but all of them withdrawn because the artist, John Tenniel, didn't like how his drawings came out: he said they weren't dark enough. The second printing, five months later.

It's the birthday in Paris, 1754, of the architect PIERRE CHARLES L'ENFANT (pee-YAIR sharl law-FAWN) who designed Washington, D.C. He came to this country to fight for the colonists in the Revolutionary War. Afterward, when Congress decided to build a capital city on the Potomac River, George Washington asked L'Enfant to design it. He designed Washington to symbolize power radiating from a central source with long avenues joined at key points where important buildings or monuments could stand.

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




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