Saturday

Aug. 22, 1998

Ottawa, MN, Cemetery --1922

by Philip Bryant

SATURDAY 8/22

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.®

 









«

»

  • “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
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »