Today in Literary History – September 29, 1967 – the death of Carson McCullers

The novelist Carson McCullers died 50 years ago today, on September 29, 1967, from a brain hemorrhage. She was only 50 years old but had suffered from serious health issues most of her life, including rheumatic fever, a series of strokes that left her paralyzed on her left side, alcoholism and severe depression. McCullers attempted …

Book Review – True Sex: The Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Emily Skidmore

George Green died In the tiny rural community of Ettrick, North Carolina, near Raleigh, in 1902. He was known to be a hard worker and he and his wife were considered to be good neighbours and upstanding members of the community. But, when Green's body was being prepared for burial his friends were baffled to …

Today in Literary History – September 27, 1917 – the birth of Louis Auchincloss

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the novelist and short story writer Louis Auchincloss, on September 27, 1917. He died in 2010 at the age of 92. I have been an Auchincloss fan for years and have always been puzzled by the fact that he never became more famous than he did. …

Book Review – LIGHTFOOT by NICHOLAS JENNINGS

I watched some of the Canada150 festivities from Parliament Hill on television this past Canada Day. I particularly wanted to see Gordon Lightfoot perform, which he did with evident glee. Justin Trudeau reminded the crowd that Lightfoot had performed on that very spot 50 years ago, for Canada's centennial celebration in 1967. Lightfoot, who will …

Today in Literary History – September 26, 1888 – T.S. Eliot is born

T.S. Eliot, the great poet, playwright and publisher, was born on September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved to England at the age of 25, eventually renouncing his American citizenship and becoming a British citizen. In 1925 Eliot (Tom to his friends) began working as an editor at the publishing house that would …

Book Review – A Loving Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe

A Loving Faithful Animal is a striking debut novel by Josephine Rowe, who has published collections of short stories and poetry in her native Australia. It opens on a hot dry New Years Eve in 1990 in Victoria State with a poor rural family struggling with endings and beginings. Jack Burroughs, a violent Vietnam War …

Today in Literary History – September 25, 1897 – William Faulkner is born

Nobel Prize winning novelist and short story writer William Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897, in rural Mississippi, the state he lived in for the rest of his life and where he set most of his books, usually in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. At birth Faulkner's name was Falkner, but sometime in 1918 when …

Today in Literary History – September 24, 1896 – F. Scott Fitzgerald is born

The great jazz age novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald and he was named after his distant cousin Francis Scott Key who wrote the American national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner." Like his most famous character, Jay Gatsby in …

Today in Literary History – September 23, 1241 – the murder of Snorri Sturluson

On September 23, 1241, the great Icelandic poet, historian and clan chieftain Snorri Sturluson was murdered in his home, probably on the orders of the Norwegian king Haakon, who had once been Snorri's patron but whom Snorri had disobeyed. Snorri was an important man in 13th century Icelandic life, twice elected as the "law speaker" …

Book Review – Midwinter Break by Bernard McLaverty

I have loved the work of the Irish writer Bernard McLaverty for many years, partly because of the quiet, almost imperceptible way that he careful layers tiny observations about his characters -- gestures, facial expressions, verbal mannerisms -- on top of each other to slowly reveal their hidden selves. But mostly for the generosity and …

Today in Literary History – September 22, 1598 – Ben Jonson kills an actor in a duel

On September 22, 1598, playwright Ben Jonson killed a prominent young actor named Gabriel Spencer in a duel near Hogsden Fields in Shoreditch, London. No one knows for certain what the duel was about, but two years earlier Spencer had stabbed a man to death in a brawl and was let off after pleading self-defence. …

Today in Literary History – September 21, 1934 – Leonard Cohen is born

Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934, in Montreal to a prosperous Orthodox Jewish family. Cohen died last year at the age of 82. Over the years he had many artistic incarnations as a poet, novelist and singer-songwriter. Although he lived in many places over the years -- Greece, London, New York, Los Angeles …