Literary Birthdays – April 11 – 17

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April 11


Sergei Vasilievich Lukyanenko (Серге́й Васи́льевич Лукья́ненко) (b.  1968) – Russian science fiction writer – Night Watch

Read the Wikipedia entry for Sergei Lukyanenko

April 12

Tama Janowitz (b. 1957) – U.S. novelist, satirist – Slaves of New York (1986)
Tama Janowitzphoto by Andrew Sciaulino /

Read the Wikipedia entry for Tama Janowitz

Read more biography here:

Excerpt from Area Code Two One Two:

Tim went out with Willow, who wasn’t yet two and a half. He took the big stroller, which had a basket underneath. After some time Willow imperiously announced that she wanted to get in the basket; her stuffed toy baboon was to occupy the seat. It was only because Willow was so small that she was able to fit into the tiny bottom basket, meant for holding diapers or a few groceries.

Tim wheeled the stroller. All that was visible in it was the stuffed baboon. People gave him strange looks. From time to time from underneath Willow would yell, “It’s raining!” Although it was not raining, this was a command to Tim to quickly put the rainhood over the baboon. Then he would inquire if it was still raining, and if she said, “No,” he had to fold the hood back.

After a while he bumped into a friend, John Waters, the movie director…

[page 49, Area Code Two One Two, “The New York Child”]

Gary Soto Gary Soto(b. 1952) – U.S. poet, young adult fiction writer, essayist – The Effects of Knut Hamsun on a Fresno Boy (2001)

Read the FAQ

Mission Tire Factory

All through lunch Peter pinched at his crotch,
And Jesús talked about his tattoos,
And I let the flies crawl my arm, undisturbed,
Thinking it was wrong, a buck sixty five,
The wash of rubber in our lungs,
The oven we would enter, squinting
—because earlier in the day Manny fell
From his machine, and when we carried him
To the workshed (blood from
Under his shirt, in his pants)
All he could manage, in an ignorance
Outdone only by pain, was to take three dollars
From his wallet, and say:
“Buy some sandwiches.You guys saved my life.”

(Beginning of) Self-Inquiry Before the Job Interview

Did you sneeze?
Yes, I rid myself of the imposter inside me.
Did you iron your shirt?
Yes, I used the steam of mother’s hate.
Did you wash your hands?
Yes, I learned my hygiene from a raccoon.
I prayed on my knees, and my knees answered with pain.
I gargled. I polished my shoes until I saw who I was.
I inflated my résumé by employing my middle name. …
Read the entire poem here

April 13

Eudora Welty (b. 1909) – U.S. novelist, short story writer – One Writer’s Beginnings Eudora Welty

Read the Wikipedia on Eudora Welty here

Read Paige’s blog post
“Happy Birthday, Eudora Welty, Best All Round Girl”

Read a review of Welty’s
One Writer’s Beginnings

Listen to Eudora Welty read an excerpt from “Why I Live at the P.O.”

Watch/listen to Eudora Welty being read aloud by other authors

Watch / listen to Mississippi natives Eudora Welty and Cleanth Brooks discuss literature

April 14

Daniel Clowes

Daniel Clowes (b. 1961) – U.S. comic book author, screenwriter –  Ghost World

Read a biography of Daniel Clowes

Read the Lambiek “Comiclopedia” entry for Daniel Clowes

Read an interview of Daniel Clowes
talking about
Ghost World

“I’ve had people talking about my characters saying this person is a really despicable horrible person and I’ll think it’s just me just slightly tweaked in a different direction. I don’t know how to write otherwise, other than to find some part of me that is similar to the character.”

April 15

Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452) – Italian inventor, designer, writer, “Renaissance man” – Codex Atlanticus (1490)

Read the Wikipedia entry for Leonardo da Vinci

Read the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci

Check out Leonardo’s automobile

Watch the Leonardo biopic (BBC documentary)

April 16

 Diane Middlebrook Diane Middlebrook (b. 1939) – U.S. biographer, poet – Anne Sexton: A Biography (1991)

Read the Wikipedia entry for Diane Middlebrook

Read Diane Middlebrook’s thoughts about how and why she writes:

I love writing biography. It is the most interesting kind of writing that I can think of to do. For one thing, people like to read it. Nobody wanted to read Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens. But lots of people like to read biographies; I loved that I was writing for a general audience: intelligent people who were interested in the historical situation of someone who had accomplished something important. The research was wide-ranging, it got you out of the library, you had to interview people and travel a lot, it was a surprisingly extensive enterprise. So I decided that I wanted to be a biographer.

*   *   *

Hilton Obenzinger: …you get up in the morning and start writing?

DM: No, I drink a pot of coffee first: that’s my drug; it makes me feel elated and smart. I have learned not to lavish that precious illusion on the New York Times. If I am feeling professionally on top of things, I will read something in The Times that I know is really well-written. Just to read something that I know will be really good. My favorite book is by Claudia Pierpoint Roth, called Passionate Minds. She is a beautiful writer, every paragraph is beautifully written. But she also has a way of writing what amounts to a miniature biography without making you feel that she has left anything out that is important. My second favorite is a writer named Adam Phillips who is a child psychoanalyst that has written on a number of subjects. Psychoanalysis is an examination of subjectivity, of finding out what a person is. He is very good at opening you up to the actual existence of an unconscious. If you are reading poetry – trying to talk about what poets do – you need to be alert to the expressiveness of everything that wants to come to you already like a statement. You want to find its network, its radiations into other things. So by reading psychoanalysts I can prime myself: “They did it; I can do it; right!”

*   *   *

… with a biography there is no straight line; all is muddled. You don’t know what you know, you don’t know what you don’t know; if you find anything you make a note about it because some day it may find its partner. You have to have very good ways of keeping track of what you have found and where you have put it.

Read excerpts from Middlebrook’s book
Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton

Listen to Diane Middlebrook in this
1991 Wired for Books interview

April 17

Giusy Ferreri (b. 1979) – Italian singer-songwriter Giusy Ferreri

Read the Wikipedia entry for Giusy Ferreri

Watch Giusy perform “Senza Promesse” live

(by Giusy Ferreri)

Come già si sa per l’eternità tutto non durerà / You know already it won’t last forever
e io non mi illuderò / And I have no illusions
ora tu saziami di pane e di corpo e di… saziami / praying to be filled with your bread and your body and … I’m full
ed ubriacami infine con il sangue della verità / and I am finally drunk with the cold-blooded truth
ed anche se non ho bisogno di te… / And although I don’t need you

Oh oh love for you
ma che importanza ha / But who cares
se tu non sarai più tu / If you will not be you
ed anche se sarai tu / And even if you are
ma non saranno promesse / But there are no promises
per non durare per sempre / that last forever

Com’è difficile amare / So difficult to love
abbandonarsi davvero / to truly abandon oneself
amami voglio un amore / I love a love
ma senza promesse / without promises
e dammelo… finché tu oh oh / made to me … until you – oh, oh

Come si sa per l’eternità niente non durerà / We know that nothing will last forever
e io non mi spaventerò / and I am not afraid
e tu accetterai come la fiamma / and  I accept you as the flame
per attendere le lacrime a spegnerci poi / while I  wait for the tears to come
ti ho già inebriato di graditi sospiri / Now that I’ve gotten you  drunk with pleasurable sighs
fino ad asfissiarti col mio respiro  / to where I’m smothering you with my breath
muoio in balia di un amore che senza pretese / I am dying from a love without pretense
e ciò che serve a nutrire di questo mio seno / and that which serves as nourishment from my breast
si è tramutato in veleno /  has turned into poison

Oh oh oh love for you
ma che importanza ha / But who cares
se tu non sarai più tu / if you will not be you
ed anche se sarai tu / and even if you are
ma non saranno premesse
per non durare per sempre / will not last forever

Com’è difficile amare / How difficult it is to love
abbandonarsi davvero / to truly abandon oneself
amami voglio un amore / I love a love
ma senza promesse / without promises
perché promessa nutre rancore! / because promises become grudges!

Così non mi chiamerai più tanto … / So don’t call me so much …
ma farfalla smarrita non più ape regina / I am no longer a lost butterfly nor a queen bee
servita e punita per aver leccato / served and punished for having licked
il miele più buono che c’è / the best honey there is

Mi chiamerai vedova nera / Call me a black widow
e sto già tessendo la prossima tela / As I weave my next web
ed imbandito la tavola a cena / with the dinner table set
serviti dal cielo, ed hai rubato / served from heaven, while you have stolen
tutti i miei spiriti agli dei / all of my spirit
sfamato di me / to feed myself.

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