Aug. 23, 2000
The Genuine Article
It's the birthday in Kalispell, Montana, 1957, of writer Melanie Rae Thon, author of a pair of short story collections, Girls in the Grass (1991), and First Body (1996); and two novels, Meteors in August (1990), and her best-known book, Iona Moon (1993); about a teenage girl coming of age in 1960s rural Idaho.
English playwright Willy Russell was born in Whiston, near Liverpool, on this day in 1947. He left school at age 15, worked as a hairdresser until he was 20, and then went back to school and began writing plays including Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita (for which he also wrote the screenplay) and Blood Brothers.
It's the birthday in Surrey, 1946, of the British novelist Robert Irwin, author of the comic novel, The Limits of Vision (1986), the story of a London housewife who -- as she does her day's cleaning -- holds imaginary conversations with Da Vinci, Dickens, and Darwin, on the subject of dust balls and dirt.
The cover of the August 23, 1943 edition of Life magazine featured the dance craze that was sweeping the US at the time, the Lindy Hop, named after aviator Charles Lindbergh. The dance originated years earlier at The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, when George Snowden started doing jumps and twirls to the music of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. Snowden told everyone he was doing something called the Lindy Hop. When other dancers adopted it, the name changed to the jitterbug, swing, or Lindy -- and by W.W.II everybody was dancing it.
It's the birthday in Chicago, 1935, of writer Norbert Blei. After working as a journalist and high school English teacher in Chicago until his mid-30s, Blei moved to Door County, Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Michigan, and started coming out with poetry and essay collections about life there. Door Way (1981) is a series of profiles of area residents: a wood-carver, a potter, a country doctor, a car salesman. Door Steps (1983) is a collection of long poems about nature in northern Wisconsin.
It's the birthday in Cumberland, Maryland, 1911, of the poet, J.V. Cunningham.
It's the birthday of Edgar Lee Masters, born in Garnett, Kansas, 1869, and author of Spoon River Anthology. He grew up on his grandfather's farm near New Salem, Illinois, a little village near the Mississippi River across from Hannibal, Missouri, and became a lawyer, doing his writing on the side. His first book of poems came out when he was 31 years old, followed by another poetry collection, play or novel nearly every year until he died in 1950. But he is best known for his 1915 Spoon River Anthology, a set of 245 poems spoken as epitaphs by the deceased residents of a dreary Midwestern village, the fictitious Spoon River. The speakers tell of their hopes and dreams, but also about their bitter, unfulfilled lives.
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