Book Review – THE SOLITARY TWIN by HARRY MATHEWS – The Great Trickster’s Final Novel

Harry Mathews was an American novelist and poet who lived most of his life in France. When he died last year at the age of 86, he was perhaps better known in Europe than in the English speaking world. His fan base in his native language may be small, but they are tenaciously dedicated to …

Today in Literary History – April 25, 1719 – Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” is published

Daniel Defoe's The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner was first published on April 25, 1719. The story of an English sailor marooned for 28 years on a deserted island off the coast of South America, it was a huge success with the public, going through four printings in its first …

Today in Literary History – April 22, 1899 – Vladimir Nabokov is born

Vladimir Nabokov, the novelist, memoirist, poet and critic, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on April 22, 1899. He came from a wealthy and influential aristocratic family. His father was one of the leaders of a liberal political party, The Constitutional Democrats, and was a prominent writer and public figure. Nabokov wrote about his idyllic …

Thought of the Day

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” —Charles Baudelaire

Today in Literary History – April 21, 1910 – Mark Twain dies (no exageration)

Mark Twain, the great American humorist and creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, died on April 21, 1910, at the age of seventy-four. He had been in poor health for some time and was severely depressed by the deaths of his wife and two of his daughters in addition to several close friends. He …

Today in Literary History – April 19, 1824 – Lord Byron dies in Greece

Lord Byron, the great Romantic poet, adventurer and sexual libertine, died on April 19, 1824, in Missolonghi, Greece at the age of thirty-six. Byron had been in self-imposed exile from Britain since 1816, due to his scandalous romantic entanglements, including a sexual affair with his married half-sister, Augusta Leigh, whose daughter he may or may …

Today in Literary History – April 18, 1947 – novelist and poet Kathy Acker is born

Kathy Acker, the postmodern novelist and punk poet was born in New York City on April 18, 1947. She died in 1997 at the age of 50 in Tijuana, Mexico, where she was pursuing alternative treatments for breast cancer. Acker came from a wealthy New York family, but her father, Donald Lehman, left her mother …

Today in Literary History – April 15, 1755 – Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary is published

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language was first published on April 15, 1755. Its full title was: "A DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: IN WHICH The WORDS are deduced from their ORIGINALS, AND ILLUSTRATED in their DIFFERENT SIGNIFICATIONS BY EXAMPLES from the best WRITERS. TO WHICH ARE PREFIXED, A HISTORY of the LANGUAGE, AND An ENGLISH GRAMMAR, By SAMUEL JOHNSON, A.M. In TWO VOLUMES." Popularly know as  Johnson's Dictionary it wasn't the first …

Today in Literary History – April 14, 1939 – John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” is published

John Steinbeck's classic novel of the American Dust Bowl, The Grapes of Wrath, was first published on April 14, 1939. It won the The National Book Award for the best novel of 1939 and The Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The novel follows the Joad family, "Okies" who are forced by drought, the Great Depression and …

Today in Literary History – April 13, 1939 – Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney is born

Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, one of the major poets of the 20th century, was born on April 13, 1939, in Northern Ireland. He was born at home in a farmhouse, the first of nine children. Heaney's family was Catholic and he was raised in a predominantly Protestant community. His poetry often dealt with Ireland's …

Today in Literary History – April, 12, 1916 – Beverly Cleary is born

Beverly Cleary, the beloved author of books for children and young readers turns 102 years old today. She was born on April 12, 1916. She published her first book, Henry Huggins, in 1950 when she was a school librarian sensing children's desire for books that rang true with their own lives. As of a 2006 …

Thought of the Day

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." --Theodore Roosevelt

Today in Literary History – April 10, 1925 – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is published to not so great reviews

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece novel about the Jazz Age (a term he coined), was published in New York on April 10, 1925. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald its original reception was disappointing. It sold only 20,000 copies in the first year, out of an expected 75,000. It did get good reviews from The New …

Today in Literary History – April 9, 1945 – theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is executed by the Nazis

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, spy and anti-Nazi dissident, was executed at the Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, just weeks before the collapse of the Nazi regime. He was condemned for his part in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer is best known for two influential books, The Cost of Discipleship first published …