Oct. 1, 2000
Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man
It's the birthday of poet Rita Dove, born in Akron, Ohio (1952). She has said that her aim is "to bring poetry into everyday discourse... to make it much more of a household word." She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for Thomas and Beulah, a collection of forty-four poems that chronicle the lives of a black man and woman much like Dove's own grandparents.
It's the birthday of novelist Tim O'Brien, born in Austin, Minnesota (1946), the son of an insurance salesman and a teacher. He was drafted after graduating from Macalester College, served two years as an infantryman in Vietnam, and received the Purple Heart. He drew upon his Vietnam experiences in his first book, a memoir titled If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, and in many later works. He won the National Book Award in 1979 for Going After Cacciato, in which an American soldier in Vietnam decides to leave Southeast Asia and walk to Paris. In a fictional memoir, The Things They Carried, an American girl visiting her boyfriend in Vietnam becomes so consumed with the war that she wanders into combat wearing a necklace made of human tongues.
It's the birthday of historian, cultural critic, and former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin, born in Atlanta (1914). In his prophetic book The Image, published in 1962, he introduced the notion of "pseudo-events" -- occurrences manufactured solely in order to be reported -- and defined a celebrity as "a person who is known for his well-knownness."
It's the birthday of the Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz, born in Kiev in the Ukraine (1903). He emigrated to further his career, becoming an American citizen in 1942. In 1986, accompanied by his wife, piano tuner, and cook, he returned to play concerts in Russia after an absence of sixty-one years, and was greeted with an unprecedented outpouring of emotion. He was a dazzling but anxious performer, often assailed by fears of failure. In mid-career, he withdrew from the stage for almost twelve years.
It's the birthday of the romance novelist Faith Baldwin, born in New Rochelle, New York (1893). She wrote more than eighty-five books with titles like Blaze of Sunlight and Hold on to Your Heart, narrating the amorous lives of glamorous characters. It was said that she often wrote a chapter a day.
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