Though of the Day

"Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats." --Rebecca West        

Thought of the Day

"The way I keep in touch with the world is very gingerly, because the world touches too hard." --Don Van Vliet ("Captain Beefheart")

Book Review – HISTORY OF VIOLENCE by ÉDOUARD LOUIS – Brutal Honesty About Brutal Reality

Édouard Louis's first novel, En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, was published in France in 2014, when Louis was 22 years old, and translated into English last year as The End of Eddy. It is a short but powerful autobiographical novel about Louis's adolescence and young manhood as an effeminate, book-loving son of working class parents in …

Today in Literary History – June 21, 1948 – Ian McEwan is born

Ian McEwan, the great British short story writer and novelist, was born on June 21, 1948. He has had one of the longest and most varied careers of his generation of British writers which includes Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and Julian Barnes. McEwan's father was an Army major and McEwan grew up on various military …

Thought of the Day

  “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” ― Bertrand Russell

Today in Literary History – June 20, 1995 – Essayist Emil Cioran dies

Emil Cioran, the Romanian philosopher and author who lived most of his life in France died on June 20, 1995, at the age of eighty-four, from Alzheimer Disease. Cioran had been obsessed by the idea of suicide his whole life. Many of his brief aphoristic essays wove themselves around what Cioran considered a paradox, at …

Thought of the Day

“The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change.” --Samuel R. Delany

Today in Literary History – June 10, 1915 – Novelist Saul Bellow is born

The Nobel Prize-winning American novelist Saul Bellow was born on June 10, 1915. In addition to the Nobel he won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award three times. Bellow, whose parents were Jewish refugees from St. Petersburg, Russia, was born in Lachine, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal. When he was nine years old …

Today in Literary History – June 8, 1949 – George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is published

George Orwell's explosive dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (sometimes re-released as 1984) was first published on June 8, 1949. Orwell completed the manuscript in 1948 and simply inverted the date to provide a year in the not too distant future. Orwell himself died from tuberculosis eight months after its publication, at the age of forty-six. Orwell …

Today in Literary History – June 5, 1910 – Short Story Writer O. Henry dies

The great short story writer O. Henry (whose real name was William Sydney Porter) died on June 5, 1910 at the age of only forty-seven. O. Henry's short stories are famous for their surprise endings. Sadly, there wasn't much surprise in the ending of William Porter's life. He was an alcoholic who was negligent about …

Book Review – MIRROR, SHOULDER, SIGNAL by DORTHE NORS – A Clever Novel About Coping in Copenhagen

Danish writer Dorthe Nors has had two books translated into English so far, a book of short stories, Karate Chop, and a book containing two experimental novellas, So Much For That Winter. The droll and compassionate Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, the first of her five novels to appear in English, was published last year in the UK, …

Today in Literary History – June 3, 1771 – Clergyman and Wit Sydney Smith is born

Sydney Smith, the Anglican cleric, writer and famous wit, was born on July 3, 1771. After a brilliant career at Oxford University Smith took Holy Orders. He served as the priest at several small rural parishes, including Combe Florey, later the home of Evelyn Waugh. Smith was one of the founders of The Edinburgh Review …

Today in Literary History – June 2, 1962 – Novelist Vita Sackville-West dies

Vita Sackville-West, the Bloomsbury era novelist, poet and memoirist died on June 2, 1962 at the age of 70 at her home in Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England. She wrote 13 novels during her life and the was the inspiration for the title character of the novel Orlando by Virginia Wolff, one of her many …