LitBirthdays October 2 – 8

Go To October 3| October 4| October 5| October 6| October 7| October 8|

October is

National Book


October 2

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz (born October 2, 1949) – U.S. photographer

Read about Annie Leibovitz here and here

Watch Paul Chase’s video of Annie Leibovitz talking about the photos in her retrospective exhibit

See the montage of photos by and of Annie Leibovitz

Some of the Annie Leibovitz photos



Bud Abbott (William Alexander Abbott) (born October 2, 1897) – U.S. comedian of the Abbott and Costello team

Read about Bud Abbott here

Watch Abbott and Costello’s most famous comedy routine “Who’s on First”

Born October 2

Groucho (Julius Henry) Marx (born October 2, 1890) – U.S. comedian, film and television star – Groucho and Me (1959)

Mahatma Gandhi (born October 2, 1869) – Indian pacifist


October 3

John Patrick Shanley (born October 3, 1950) – U.S. playwright, screenwriter – Moonstruck (1987)

Read about John Patrick Shanley here and here

Shanley: (2009 commencement speech at College of Mount Saint Vincent) Not to bring up something upsetting, but when you leave here today, you may go through a period of unemployment. My suggestion is this: Enjoy the unemployment. Have a second cup of coffee. Go to the park. Read Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman loved being unemployed. I don’t believe he ever did a day’s work in his life. As you may know, he was a poet. If a lot of time goes by and you continue to be unemployed, you may want to consider announcing to all appropriate parties that you have become a poet.

Read the New York Times Magazine article about Shanley

For Shanley, writing was how he learned to make sense of a childhood in which he was always an outsider. Growing up as a son of an immigrant meat packer in the east Bronx in the 50’s and 60’s put him in ”a very violent neighborhood,” he said. ”It was extremely anti-intellectual and extremely racist and none of this fit me. I was in constant fistfights from the time I was 6. I did not particularly want to be. People would look at me and become enraged at the sight of me. I believe that the reason was they could see that I saw them. And they didn’t like that.”

The kid from the hot-lunch program who never saw a play until he worked on a high-school production of ”Cyrano de Bergerac” broke through barriers of class and education to become one of the theater’s most successful playwrights. He wears that victory lightly, although the courtly, cagey manners of an outsider — always gauging a response, planning a parry — tend to peek through.

Shanley talks about writing for theater and screen, and tells the good advice he got from his father that he applies to his writing

Shanley: Modern plays are different than plays from 40 years ago. Back then you had this host of characters to work with and multiple locales. Now we’re down to, Doubt is four characters and a few locales. And so when you go to take something like that and turn it into a film, using the materials of film, you have to break the spell. I want to see what the audience wants to see. That starts to suggest a lot of ways that the film organically grows into a larger item.

Born October 3

Alvin Toffler (born October 3, 1928) – U.S. futurist – Future Shock (1970)

Talib Kwili (born October 3, 1975) – U.S. rapper


October 4

Adam Hollanek
(born October 4, 1922) – Polish novelist, poet, science fiction writer

Read about Adam Hollanek here and here

He made his debut as a science fiction author with the dystopian Disaster in the Antarctic Sun / Katastrofa na Słońcu Antarktydy, (1958) an adventure story about an ambitious technical project — melting Antarctic glaciers. He popularized science and technology in many of his books, as well as writing a detective story with fantasy elements, Crime Giant / Zbrodnia wiełkiego czlowieka (1960). Over the years, his short stories have included “Muzyka dla was, chlopcy / Music for You, Guys” (1975) and “Ukochany Księżyca / The Moon’s Beloved” (1979), as well as a story about a Trojan horse “Jak koń trojański / A Trojan Horse” and “Calling on the Milky Way” (1989). In the novel Jeszcze Prochę Pożyć / Barely Staying Alive (1980), he explores the question of immortality. From 1982 until 1990 Hollanek was editor of the magazine Fantastyka, and was active in various international science fiction organizations.

[from the LEGIE fantasy and science fiction database (Slovak language machine translation)]

Adanm Hollanek

Adam Hollanek – poetry fragment from Fantastyka (1984, 1(16)

Stałeś / You stand
na szczycie góry / on a mountain top
której szkliste zbocza / with icy slopes
odpierały z pogardą ataki / repelling with scorn the attacks
rynkowego gwaru ______
i oglądałeś uważnie / and watch carefully
ślad stopy / footprints
na piasku / on the sand

[From the article “Fantasy and Poetry” by Adam Mazurkiewicz, (Polish language)]

Adam Hollanek’s headstone, in Warsaw

Adam Hollanek / Writer, Poet
* 4/10/1922, Lviv – 28/7/1998
Gdy umre i ty zyc przestaniesz / When I am dead and you cease to live
Nikogo i niczego już. nie będzie / No longer anybody or anything
Pustka pustka dokola —- / Emptiness emptiness all around –
Tylko sam Bóg nas ucaluje / God alone we kiss
W`nieistniejace czola / On his mythical forehead

Born October 4

Kazuki Takahashi (born October 4, 1961) – Japanese manga author, video game creator, graphic novelist – YU-GI-OH! (1996)

Anne Rice (born October 4, 1941) – U.S. novelist – Interview with the Vampire (1976)

Rene (Mable Neighbour) Cloke (born October 4, 1904) – U.K. children’s book illustrator, author


October 5

Zoran Zivkovic
Zoran Živković (born October 5, 1948)- Serbian writer, essayist of fantasy/science fiction – Seven Touches of Music (2006)

Read about Zoran Zivkovic here and here

Read interviews with Zoran Zivkovic here and here

Zivkovic: The Serbian literary establishment is proverbially conservative and traditional. They still consider there can’t be any serious literature outside what they define as “great national themes.” Since my writing doesn’t belong to that category, and yet still has an impact abroad (I am currently one of most widely translated Serbian authors), they are now in some sort of a bind. They don’t know what to do with me.
[from SF Signal interview of Zoran Zivkovic]

Zivkovic: Basically, there are only two themes in the noble art of fiction writing: love and death. Everything else is one of their many derivatives. Even the most profound search for meaning fails if not spiced with some humorous touch that softens it. On the other hand, the laugh needs the presence of the seriousness to be truly effective. Eros and thanatos, laughter and tears, are in a constant conflict for precedence in my prose. In my humble view, I achieve the best results in my fiction writing when I manage to reconcile these opposites.
[from a Strange Horizons interview]
Excerpt from a book review of Seven Touches of Music

An autistic child hearing a piece of music during an art class mysteriously breaks the pattern of drawing circles that he has been following for months by writing out a sequence of numbers. When the doctor working with him asks a mathematician friend if there is any significance to them, he is told that they are “…one of the fundamental values of nature, the fine-structure constant…” Some how or other a six-year-old autistic child has written out the decimal that defines life while listening to Chopin. Even more odd, is that no matter how many times the doctor repeats the experiment, the child never deviates from his set pattern again.

A librarian’s desk top computer catches fire after it starts playing the music from a dream she had, and mysteriously bringing the dream to life as a video. In the dream a library filled with ancient scrolls containing the wisdom of the world is destroyed. A widower inherits his wife’s tom cat and penchant for haunting second-hand stores. One day he brings home a music box that he very carefully winds in the hopes that it still plays. Meanwhile the cat has climbs into the box in which the music box was packed. Mysteriously when he comes out he is a she and time has shifted. For when the widower follow his “new cat” into the living room, he sees a younger version of himself, his wife, and children sitting around the dinner table; a scene which persists until the music box runs down.

What is there about the music that is causing these seemingly different people to all connect with something beyond reality and to have visions outside their own time, or glimpses of the pattern that makes up life. Seven Touches Of Music is a beautifully written story where on the surface nothing much seems to happen, yet each character in the book travels further than most heroes do on epic quests. The action takes place inside the characters as they come to grips with the new awareness of the world that the music has gifted to them.

[Book review by Richard Marcus]

Born October 5

Václav Havel (born October 5, 1936) – Czech playwright, political leader – “Leaving”

Bernie Mac (Bernard Jeffrey McCullough) (born October 5, 1957) – U.S. comedian, actor – Maybe You Never Cry Again (2004 memoir)

Magda Szabó (bborn October 5, 1917) – Hungarian novelist – Az ajto / The Door (1987)



October 6

David Brin
David Brin (born October 6, 1950) – U.S. physicist, science fiction writer, essayist, futurist – Tomorrow Happens (2003)

Read about David Brin here and here

Read an interview with David Brin here
Brin: I liked the idea of starships so vast they would carry a million years worth of treasures from one galaxy to another, as “gift” because even passing through wormholes would be one-way, so every great civilization is constantly paying forward to the next one, never expecting “trade” in return.

[interview for Lightspeed magazine by Stacey Friedberg, September 2011]

David Brin talks about future targets of space exploration

Brin: We’ve never visited Phobos, the larger moon of Mars. It may be the most valuable real estate in the solar system. If it turned out that Phobos contained carbonaceous materials with volatiles like water, then an in situ propellant production plant on Phobos could create, in advance, all the water and all the return fuels needed for an expedition. We could send our eventual expedition and it would find all the return fuels needed, already in place.

So far in space we’ve been sprinting. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, even this space station of ours — all within quick reach. The Apollo missions were very similar to Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. The main thing they cared about with supplies was how to carry as little as possible. When we go to Mars, when we go to the asteroids, we’re going to have to rediscover the obsession of Amundsen and Shackleton … who cared about supplies, supplies, supplies. We need to know that when we go to Mars, all the supplies are already there. And most of the supplies that we need will be water, wrenches, TV dinners, things that are not specific to the design of the mission. In other words, these are things we should be sending now.

With giant solar sail freighters or ion drive, we could send water, wrenches, and TV dinners this decade, while we’re still arguing over what the Mars expedition will be like. If we were to develop those freighters, we could send the non-mission specific grunt supplies to orbit or land on Phobos and be there. When we finally send the crewed expedition, by eliminating the carrying of these supplies from the main expedition it can be done cheaper, faster, with more attention to get the people there safely, as quickly as possible, as little radiation damage.

Excerpt from Jack Holt’s review of Tomorrow Happens

Many years ago, I first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Tree & Leaf, a book composed of Tolkien’s essay on fairy stories and a demonstration of that theory in a short story called “Leaf by Niggle”. Tree & Leaf came as a surprise to me, because I had thought Tolkien’s predominant interests were philological rather than philosophical. So, Tree & Leaf changed how I looked at the author’s work forever. This volume is much the same. It takes some excellent short stories and highlights Brin’s own literary, scientific and socio-political themes against a series of speculative essays and comments.

But, the highlight for me was one essay in which Brin questions the wisdom of creating a fantasy view of feudalism (one of the most execrable forms of economic oppression ever created) as he takes on Tolkien’s fantasy. Brin makes a case for looking at the positive results of the Enlightenment and the modern Information Age. He gently prods at the sentimental longing for a lost age of paternalism and “security”.

Tomorrow Happens contains some of Brin’s best thoughts on how information is carried on from person-to-person and from generation-to-generation. In a strange way, I think this is almost Brin’s “answer” to Tolkien’s Tree & Leaf. If Tolkien’s book extolled the virtues of religion, faerie (the mythical land subbing for irrationality and romanticism) & lore, Brin’s book preaches a different approach to literature and life. Brin’s worlds are about optimism, innovation, and information.

Born October 6

Ayten Mutlu (born October 6, 1952 or 1953) – Turkish poet

Ariane Dreyfus (born October 6, 1958) – French poet



October 7

Andreea Iacob (born October 7, 1980) – Romanian theater director, playwright – Shoah (2009)

Read about Andreea Iacob here and here

About Shoah, a theater-installation inspired by stories of Holocaust survivors in Transylvania


A double-walled labyrinth contains metal and paper elements which are connected to piezoelectric sensors. When these elements are touched by the members of the audience, their sound is amplified and retransmitted live. The performer, who is guiding the audience, wears four small speakers, incorporated in her costume. From these speakers, we can hear the voice of a woman who survived the Holocaust, singing. The recorded sound is distorted when the audience makes noise by touching the metal elements from the labyrinth. When there is silence, the sound is clean. When the audience and the performer reach the middle of the labyrinth, where there is no metal element to be touched and where, therefore, is silence the audience can hear from the speakers on the performance body the voice of the survival, narrating how she had survived the Holocaust, through singing.

and here

and watch a video here

Listen to Andreea Iacob talk about her theater presentation Shoah here (in Romanian)



Born October 7

Sherman Alexie, Jr. (born October 7, 1966) – U.S. novelist, poet – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)

Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) (born October 7, 1934) – U.S. poet, playwright, essayist – “Somebody Blew Up America” 2001



October 8

Ha Joon Chang (born October 8, 1963) – Korean / U.K. economist – Economics: The User’s Guide (2014)

Read about Ha Joon Chang here and here

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