Friday

Oct. 1, 2004

Eating Together

by Li-Young Lee

FRIDAY, 1 OCTOBER, 2004
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Eating Together," by Li-Young Lee, from Rose (BOA Editions).

Eating Together

In the steamer is the trout
seasoned with slivers of ginger,
two sprigs of green onion, and sesame oil.
We shall eat it with rice for lunch,
brothers, sister, my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.


Literary Notes:

It's the birthday of aviation pioneer William E. Boeing, born in Detroit, Michigan (1881). He went to Harvard, but left early to go into the timber industry. He became interested in flying, took lessons, and bought a small plane. On his first solo flight from Los Angeles to Seattle, he misjudged his landing and damaged his plane. When he learned that replacement parts would take weeks to ship, he decided to make his own, and that was the start of the company that became Boeing Aviation.

It's the birthday of historian and author Daniel J. Boorstin, born in Atlanta, Georgia (1914). He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for Empire of Czar. His other books include The Discoverers (1983), a study of great explorers in history, and The Creators (1992), which chronicles the achievements of great artists.

It's the birthday of classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, born in Ukraine (1904). When he was eight years old, he began studying music at the Kiev Conservatory. He got his big break in 1926 when he played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto with only a half-hour's notice. He got a standing ovation and became an overnight success. When he had already established a secure reputation, the only major conductor who had not opened up to him was Arturo Toscanini. After they met, Horowitz eventually won over Toscanini with his charm, and later married Toscanini's daughter. In 1986, he returned to his native Russia to give a series of concerts. It was his first return visit in sixty years.

It's the birthday of actor Walter Matthau, born in New York City (1920). He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Fortune Cookie (1966), and this was also the movie in which he starred with Jack Lemmon for the first time. When Matthau died several years ago, many newspapers reported in his obituary that his real surname was Matuschanskayasky. But this was just a false name that Matthau made up during an interview.

It's the birthday of the actress who played Maria in The Sound of Music (1965), Julie Andrews, born Julie Elizabeth Wells in Surrey, England (1935). She showed much talent even at a young age, and her father encouraged her. He taught her to read and write when she was three years old. When she was eight she began acting in theaters, and when she was thirteen she sang for the queen. Later, she became the youngest professional actress to play the lead role in My Fair Lady.

It's the birthday of author Tim O'Brien, born in Worthington, Minnesota. He graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, and went to Harvard for graduate school. He was drafted to go to the Vietnam War, and he went, even though he was opposed to it. Before he went off to Vietnam, he was spending the day in northern Minnesota and had the chance to cross the border into Canada, but he decided not to. He said later, "I did not want people to think badly of me. My conscience told me to run, but I was ashamed of my conscience, ashamed to be doing the right thing." When he returned from Vietnam, he worked as an intern at The Washington Post. He left journalism after the publication of his book If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973). Almost all of his books deal with the Vietnam War. O'Brien also wrote The Things They Carried (1990), Going After Cacciato (1978), and July, July (2002). Tim O'Brien said, "Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember but the story."

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 Sharon Olds 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 »