Thursday

Jul. 1, 1999

The Amish

by John Updike

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: July 1, 1999

Poem: "The Amish," by John Updike, from Telephone Poles and Other Poems (Alfred A. Knopf).

It's the birthday in Edinburgh, Scotland 1955 of CANDIA MCWILLIAM, best known for her 1988 novel, A Case of Knives.

It's the birthday in 1949, St. Paul, Minnesota of BARRY SILESKY, author of books that combine poetry and prose: like In the Ruins (1983), and One Thing That Can Save Us (1994).

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer JEAN STAFFORD, born in Covina, California, 1915. She became a star with her very first novel, Boston Adventure, that came out in 1944 when she was 29 years old, followed by The Mountain Lion, (1947) and her Collected Stories, which won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize.

It's the birthday in Annapolis, Maryland, 1892, of the novelist JAMES M. CAIN, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice. It came out in 1934—his first novel and a big bestseller.

July 1 marks the beginning of the BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, 1863, in south-central Pennsylvania, a three-day battle that turned the Civil War in favor of the Union.

It was on this day in 1858 that CHARLES DARWIN presented a paper to the Linnean Society in London, on his theory of the evolution of the species. The following year he came out with the first edition of his famous book, which had the title, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life; now it's simply called The Origin of Species.

It was on this day in 1840, in England, that POSTAGE STAMPS were first issued. Before that, the recipient had to pay to get a letter, and many letters were thus refused and had to be sent back. The new postage stamp meant the sender would pay-and they were a big hit. On July 1, 1847, the United States Post Office issued its first stamps, a five-cent stamp honoring Benjamin Franklin and a ten-cent stamp honoring George Washington.

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 »