Aug. 22, 1998

Ottawa, MN, Cemetery --1922

by Philip Bryant


Today's Reading: "Ottawa, MN, Cemetery – 1992" by Philip Bryant from SERMON ON A PERFECT SPRING DAY, published by New Rivers Press (1998).

It was on this day in 1968 that Soviet tanks rolled into PRAGUE and crushed Czech secretary Alexander Dubcek's drive toward democracy. Around the first of the year Dubceck had begun enacting economic, political, and cultural reforms and promised even more to come. The Soviet news agency, Tass, called the invasion a timely intervention to save the Czech nation.

It's the birthday in 1935, Norwich, Connecticut, of novelist E. ANNIE PROULX, author of The Shipping News, which won the 1993 National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize the following year. She's been a freelance journalist most of her life, making ends meet when she needed to by waitressing or clerking at a post office. She didn't start writing and publishing fiction until she was in her early 50s. She says, "I certainly don't regret becoming a writer later because I know a lot more about life than I did 20 or 10 years ago. I think that's important, to know how the water's gone over the dam before you start to describe it. It helps to have been over the dam yourself." Her latest novel is Accordion Crimes, which came out in 1996.

It's the birthday of JAMES KIRKWOOD, in Los Angeles, 1924, the author of A Chorus Line. Kirkwood started out as an actor on Broadway, then turned to writing. He's written several novels and plays, but his libretto for A Chorus Line, about dancers auditioning for a musical, won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize.

It's writer RAY BRADBURY's birthday, born in Waukegan, Illinois, on the shore of Lake Michigan just north of Chicago, 1920. He's best known for his science fiction — stories like The Martian Chronicles which came out in 1950, and Fahrenheit 451, three years later.

Writer DOROTHY PARKER was born on this day in 1893, West End, New Jersey. After getting out of school when she was 18 years old, she moved to New York and supported herself playing piano in a dancing school, and composing a few humorous poems for Vogue magazine. Then she started to write theater reviews for Vanity Fair; at noon she'd eat lunch at the Algonquin Hotel with other writers and critics, including Harold Ross who went on to found The New Yorker; altogether they became famous as the Algonquin Wits, notorious for their gossip and put-downs, like this one from Parker: "By the time you swear you're his, Shivering and sighing, And he vows his passion is Infinite, undying — Lady, make a note of this: One of you is lying."

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




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