What a Literary Feast Day! Tennessee Williams & Robert Frost Born; F. Scott Fitzgerald's First Novel Published
"I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth that has the appearance of illusion." - Tennessee Williams. The Glass Menagerie
His "real" name was Thomas Lanier Williams, III. But we know him by the nom de plume affixed to the classic American plays that made him famous. Here are snippets from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, Night of the Iguana, and a full-length version of The Glass Menagerie, in which a young Sam Waterston channels the young Tennessee Williams in my favorite version of this enduring "memory play."
Robert Frost - Winner of Four Pulitzer Prizes - Reads His Most Famous Poem
F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise
Minnesota-born Fitzgerald was only 23 years old when this novel was published, launching him into the fame, fortune, and eventual self-recrimination that would be chronicled in his later books and stories. This is part one of an audiobook, capably read by Kristin Hughes and posted by Stephen King. The screen is black because the only video will be on the movie monitor of your mind. It's the next best thing to reading it yourself.
TAGS: Writers & Writing, Famous Birthdays
With #Selma Movie Nominations in Mind - Here Are Black & White Photos from the Actual March on March 21, 1965
Since one picture is worth a thousand words, I need say very little here about today's anniversary of the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. The photos in this video montage were taken by Stephen Somerstein, a photographer for the student newspaper at the City University of New York (CUNY). Over the years, I've seen video footage of the march in wonderful film documentaries like Eyes on the Prize. But these black-and-white images tell the story in a more reflective way. The march that began on March 21, 1965, was the third attempt to organize a peaceful 54-mile walk in support of African-American voting rights. Two weeks earlier, six hundred marchers were attacked by Alabama state police when they reached the Pettus Bridge six blocks from where they'd started. The incident, which became known as Bloody Sunday, was broadcast on national television. Americans were outraged over this blatant act of brutality directed against people who were simply asking for the right to vote. They would be successful on today's date because they now had the support of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the FBI, the federalized Alabama National Guard, and 25 thousand other Americans - of all creeds and races - who marched with them. These images show that the March from Selma to Montgomery was about more than civil rights. It was about standing up for something you believe in whatever the cost. The triumph of the human spirit over anyone or anything that seeks to make us less than who we really are.
TAGS: Historical Figures & Events
Was the Uncle Tom of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" Really an Uncle Tom? Not in This 1987 Showtime Movie with Avery Brooks
Harriet Beecher Stowe's best-selling novel was published on this day in 1852. Many believe it's portrayal of slavery is what started the Civil War. Within three months after its initial publication, Uncle Tom's Cabin had sold 300 thousand copies. If you don't have time to watch this 1987 movie adaptation of the novel, you might want to give three minutes to the film's introduction, which puts some of the controversy surrounding Uncle Tom in perspective. With Deep Space Nine's Avery Brooks in the title role, the character hardly comes across as a shuffling lackey. (Thank you, Tami Fowler, for the original posting.)
Moms Mabley Sings "Abraham, Martin & John" (1969) & The Pointer Sisters Live (1975) - Birthdays for Moms & Ruth Pointer
We were not supposed to listen to Moms Mabley when I was a kid. Her humor was too risque. So of course, we listened to her whenever we visited our friends. Some of them knew her off-color jokes by heart and would recite them in the cafeteria while the nuns patrolled the aisles to make sure we were behaving ourselves. I still laugh when I recall the way we tried to imitate Moms' raspy voice, retelling her jokes as if we knew all about the life we were being protected from. Example: A burglar breaks into Moms' bedroom. She wakes up and says, "What do you want - I hope."
Anyway, in 1969, at the age of 75, she sang an unforgettable version of "Abraham, Martin & John," which made it to Number 2 on the music charts. It was one year after Dr. King's assassination. This voice we associated with vulgarity perfectly expressed the pathos of the moment. See for yourself in the following clip from her performance on The Merv Griffin Show. I suppose I could have tweeted this, but I had to have it on my website. I just had to.
Ruth Pointer Turns 68?
Here she is with her sisters in a live concert recorded in 1975. This was when they were doing their '40's thing. And they're terrific. You can see and hear the craft that led to later hits like "Jump" and "Neutron Dance" and so many others. And let's go ahead and include "Jump" too. It's a celebration. Happy Birthday, Ruth!
Four Good Reasons to Love John Updike - "Playing with Dynamite" & "A&P" via the New Yorker Fiction Podcast & Two Fine Interviews
"Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing the open sea." John Updike (via BrainyQuote)
To be honest, I don't have time today to write a considered piece on one of my all-time favorite writers. But I can't walk away from the blogosphere without some tribute to the great John Updike (March 18, 1932 to January 27, 2009). So here are a few place markers.
First, treat yourself to Updike's 1992 short story, "Playing with Dynamite," read by Roger Angell and discussed with New Yorker Fiction Editor, Deborah Treisman in the New Yorker Fiction Podcast. There's an audio player on that website, so you can listen without downloading to an MP3 player.
Second, here is early Updike, the short story, "A&P," also from the New Yorker Fiction Podcast.
Below are video clips from Updike's interviews with Charlie Rose of PBS and Charles McGrath, a former fiction editor at the New Yorker who was also Editor of the New York Times Book Review. But before getting to those, let's look at the video farewell, which was broadcast in 2009 on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood.
TAGS: Writers & Writing
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