Nov. 13, 1998

The Return

by Ogden Nash

FRIDAY 11/13

Today's Reading: "The Return," by Ogden Nash, published in CANDY IS DANDY: THE BEST OF OGDEN NASH, Andre Deutsch, 1972.

THE VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL was dedicated on this day in 1981 on the mall in Washington D.C., right near the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial is inscribed with the names of the nearly 58,000 soldiers killed or missing in the war.

It's the anniversary of the HOLLAND TUNNEL, the first underwater tunnel in the U.S., which opened on this day in 1927. It runs under the Hudson River between Manhattan and Jersey City, New Jersey.

It's the birthday in 1894, Kansas City, of jazz pioneer BENNIE MOTEN. He spent most of his career in his hometown, playing jazz piano and organizing bands. He started his first group when he was in his mid-20s, a ragtime trio. Over the years he picked up more players, including the pianist, Count Basie, and they played a heavy, stomping style of blues. When Moten died in 1935, Basie picked up the band and made it into the Count Basie Orchestra.

It's the birthday of LOUIS BRANDEIS, born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1856, the lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court Justice after whom Brandeis University was named. He practiced law in Boston for many years and was known as "the people's attorney." He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1916.

It's the birthday of ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, the Scottish adventurer and writer, born in Edinburgh, 1850, author of Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Child's Garden of Verses, and many other books. He went to school to become a lawyer, but found he didn't like law, so in his mid-20s began traveling and writing books about his experiences. He was always in frail health from tuberculosis, and traveled around looking for a better climate for his health. He fell in love with an American and followed her from his home in Scotland back to her's in California, and wrote about it in his books The Amateur Emigrant and Across the Plains. He worked for a time in Monterey and San Francisco, then after he married her, came back to Great Britain where he worked on Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He eventually moved to Samoa in the South Pacific where he died at the age of 44.

It's the birthday of the early Christian theologian SAINT AUGUSTINE, born in the year 354 in what is now Algeria. Hes best known for The Confessions, which he wrote about the year 400 when he was in his 40s, a kind of spiritual autobiography, and for The City of God.

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 »