Thursday, May 22, 2008

Famous Book Saints

Charlene Redick's favorite writers and their book saints.

Writer/Book Saint

F. Scott Fitzgerald/Maxwell Perkins made his first big find in 1919 when he signed F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was no easy task, for no one at Scribner's except Perkins had liked The Romantic Egotist, the working title of Fitzgerald's first novel, and it was rejected. Even so, Perkins worked with Fitzgerald to drastically revise the manuscript. Ms. Redick's favorite Fitzgerald book is The Great Gatsby.

Emily Dickinson/Lavinia, Emily's younger sister/publishers: Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd

Tennessee Williams/ was born in Columbus, Mississippi, in the home of his paternal grandfather, the local Episcopal rector. By the time Thomas was three, the family had moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi. At five, he was diagnosed with a paralytic disease, which caused his legs to be paralyzed for nearly two years; but his mother encouraged him to make up stories and read and gave him a typewriter when he was 13. His father, Cornelius Williams, was a traveling salesman who became increasingly abusive as his children grew older. The father often favored Tennessee's brother Dakin, perhaps because of Tennessee's illness and extended weakness and convalescence as a child. Tennessee's mother Edwina Dakin Williams had aspirations as a genteel southern lady and was somewhat smothering. She may have had a mood disorder. In 1918, when Williams was seven, the family moved again, this time to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1927, at 16, Williams won third prize (five dollars) for an essay published in Smart Set entitled, "Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?" A year later, he published "The Vengeance of Nitocris" in Weird Tales. In the early 1930s Williams attended the University of Missouri–Columbia, where he joined Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. His fraternity brothers dubbed him "Tennessee" for his rich southern drawl. In the late 1930s, Williams transferred to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri for a year, and finally earned a degree from the University of Iowa in 1938. By then, Williams had written Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay!. This work was first performed in 1935 at 1780 Glenview in Memphis. Ms. Redick's favorite Williams's work is The Glass Menagerie, and his book of essays, Where I Live.

Harper Lee/Having written several long stories, Harper Lee located an agent in November 1956. The following month at the East 50th townhouse of her friends Michael Brown and Joy Williams Brown, she received a gift of a year's wages with a note: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas."[3] Within a year, she had a first draft. Working with J. B. Lippincott & Co. editor Tay Hohoff, she completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959. Published July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate bestseller and won great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It remains a bestseller with more than 30 million copies in print. In 1999, it was voted "Best Novel of the Century" in a poll by the Library Journal.

David Sedaris/radio host Ira Glass asked Sedaris to appear on his weekly local program The Wild Room.

Alice Munro is a Canadian short-story writer and three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction. Widely considered "the finest living short story writer,"[1] her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. While most of Munro’s fiction is set in Southwestern Ontario, her reputation as a short-story writer is international. Her "accessible, moving stories" explore human complexities in a seemingly effortless style.[2] Munro's writing has established her as "one of our greatest contemporary writers of fiction," or, as Cynthia Ozick put it, "our Chekhov."[3]She began writing as a teenager and published her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow," while a student at the University of Western Ontario in 1950. During this period she worked as a waitress, tobacco picker and library clerk. Ms. Redick's favorite Monro collection of stories is The Progress of Love.

Rainer Maria Rilke/met and fell in love in 1897 in Munich with the widely traveled intellectual and lady of letters Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937). (Rilke changed his first name from "René" to the more masculine Rainer at Lou's urging.) His intense relationship with this married woman, with whom he undertook two extensive trips to Russia, lasted until 1900. But even after their separation, Lou continued to be Rilke's most important confidante until the end of his life. Having trained from 1912 to 1913 as a psychoanalyst with Sigmund Freud, she shared her knowledge of psychoanalysis with Rilke.

Edna O'Brien/was born in Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland in 1930, a place she would later describe as "fervid" and "enclosed." According to O'Brien, her mother was a strong, controlling woman who had emigrated temporarily to America, and worked for some time as a maid in Brooklyn, New York for a well-off Irish-American family before returning to Ireland to raise a family. In 1950 she was awarded a licence as pharmacist. She married, against her parents' wishes, in the summer of 1954, the Czech/Irish writer Ernest Gébler and the couple moved to London. They raised two sons but ultimately divorced, and Gebler died in 1998. In Ireland she read such writers as Tolstoy, Thackeray, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The first book O'Brien ever bought was Introducing James Joyce by T.S. Eliot. She has said that Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man made her realize that she wanted to pursue literature for the rest of her life. She published her first book, The Country Girls, in 1960. This was the first part of a trilogy of novels (later collected as The Country Girls Trilogy) which also included The Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). Shortly after their publication, these books were banned (and, occasionally, even burned in churchyards) in Ireland due to their frank portrayals of the sex lives of their characters.

Winston Groom/Willie Morris, the Washington Star's ( newspaper) writer-in-residence. Ms. Redick's favorite Winston Groom novel is Forrest Gump.

Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson/is an influential American country music singer-songwriter and actor. He is best known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night". Kristofferson is the sole writer of most of his songs, but he has collaborated with various other figures of the Nashville scene such as Shel Silverstein and Fred Rumfelt. Born in Brownsville, Texas, Kristofferson's parents were Mary Ann (née Ashbrook) and Lars Henry Kristofferson, a U.S. Air Force major general.[1] As a child, his father pushed his son toward a military career (Kristofferson's paternal grandfather was an officer in the Swedish Army).[2] Like most military brats, he moved around frequently as a youth, finally settling down in San Mateo, California, where he graduated from San Mateo High School. Kristofferson experienced his first dose of fame when he appeared in Sports Illustrated's "Faces In The Crowd" for his achievements while attending Pomona College of the Claremont Colleges in rugby union, football, and track and field. He and fellow classmates revived the Claremont Colleges Rugby Club in 1958, which has remained a Southern California rugby dynasty. An aspiring writer, Kristofferson earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University (Merton College, Oxford) after previously attending Pomona College. While at Oxford he was awarded his blue for boxing. While in England, Kristofferson began writing songs and working with his manager Larry Parnes; he recorded for Top Rank Records under the name Kris Carson, but was unsuccessful in this very early phase of his musical career. In 1960, Kristofferson graduated with a master's degree in English literature and married an old girlfriend, Fran Beer. Kristofferson ultimately joined the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of captain. He became a helicopter pilot after receiving flight training at Fort Rucker in southeastern Alabama. Later, during the early 1960s, he was stationed in West Germany and returned to music and formed a band. In 1965, he resigned his commission to pursue songwriting. He had just been assigned to become an English Literature professor at West Point. Kristofferson sent some of his compositions to a friend's relative, Marijohn Wilkin, a successful Nashville, Tennessee, songwriter. Ms. Redick's favorite: 'Help Me Make It Through the Night'.

Grace Paley/friend and neighbor Donald Barthelme.

D. H. Lawrence/ was an English writer of the 20th century, whose prolific and diverse output represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In his work, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, human sexuality and instinct. The fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner, and Lydia (née Beardsall), a former schoolmistress, [3], Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. His working class background and the tensions between his parents provided the raw material for a number of his early works. Lawrence would return to this locality, which he was to call "the country of my heart,"[4] as a setting for much of his fiction. During his early years he worked on his first poems, some short stories, and a draft of a novel, Laetitia, that was eventually to become The White Peacock. At the end of 1907 he won a short story competition in the Nottingham Guardian, the first time that he had gained any wider recognition for his literary talents. Some of the early poetry, submitted by Jessie Chambers, came to the attention of Ford Madox Ford, editor of the influential The English Review. Hueffer then commissioned the story Odour of Chrysanthemums which, when published in that magazine, encouraged Heinemann, a London publisher, to ask Lawrence for more work. Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile he called his "savage pilgrimage". Lady Chatterley's Lover is Ms. Redick's favorite Lawrence work.

Paula Fox / the Reverend Elwood Corning, Congregational minister, doing the rounds of his parishioners in Orange County, New York. Ms. Redick's favorite Paula Fox novel is Desperate Characters.

Stephen Sondheim/was born to Herbert and Janet ("Foxy") Sondheim, in New York City, New York, and grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and later on a farm in Pennsylvania. Herbert was a dress manufacturer and Foxy designed the dresses. An only child of well-to-do parents living in a high-rise apartment on Central Park West, Sondheim's childhood has been portrayed as isolated and emotionally neglected in Meryle Secrest's biography, Stephen Sondheim: A Life. Sondheim traces his interest in theater to Very Warm for May, a Broadway musical he saw at the age of nine. "The curtain went up and revealed a piano," Sondheim recalled. "A butler took a duster and brushed it up, tinkling the keys. I thought that was thrilling."[2] At about the age of ten, around the time of his parents' divorce, Sondheim became friends with Jimmy Hammerstein, son of the well-known lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II. The elder Hammerstein became a surrogate father to Sondheim, as the young man attempted to stay away from home as much as possible. Hammerstein had a profound influence on the young Sondheim, especially in his development of love for musical theater. Indeed, it was at the opening of Hammerstein's hit show South Pacific that Sondheim met Harold Prince, who would later direct many of Sondheim's most famous shows. During high school, Sondheim attended George School, a private Quaker preparatory school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He had the chance to write a comic musical based on the goings-on of his school, entitled By George. It was a major success among his peers, and it inflated the young songwriter's ego considerably; he took it to Hammerstein, and asked him to evaluate it as though he had no knowledge of its author. Hammerstein said it was the worst thing he had ever seen. "But if you want to know why it's terrible," Hammerstein consoled the young man, "I'll tell you." The rest of the day was spent going over the musical, and Sondheim would later say that "in that afternoon I learned more about songwriting and the musical theater than most people learn in a lifetime." [3] Thus began one of the most famous apprenticeships in the musical theatre, as Hammerstein designed a kind of course for Sondheim to take on the construction of a musical. This training centered around four assignments, which Sondheim was to write. These were:
A musical based on a play he admired (which became All That Glitters)
A musical based on a play he thought was flawed (which became High Tor)
A musical based on an existing novel or short story not previously dramatized (which became his unfinished Mary Poppins, not connected to the musical film and stage play scored by the Sherman Brothers.)
An original musical (which became Climb High)
None of these "assignment" musicals was ever produced professionally. High Tor and Mary Poppins have never been produced at all, because the rights holders for the original works refused to grant permission for a musical to be made. Ms. Redick's Sondheim favorites are Sweeney Todd and Passion.

John Updike /As a teenager attending Shillington (Pennsylvania) High School, Updike was encouraged to write by his mother, who had writing talent and saw the same, or more, in her son. Updike and his mother had the skin disease psoriasis. Ms. Redick's favorite Updike is his story collection, Trust Me.

Flannery O'Connor/ was accepted into the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop.
In 1949 O'Connor met and eventually accepted an invitation to stay with Robert Fitzgerald (translator of Greek plays and epic poems, including Oedipus Rex and both the Odyssey and the Iliad, and also a respected poet in his own right) and his wife, Sally, in Redding, Connecticut.[2]
She was a very devout Catholic, living in the "Bible-Belt," Protestant South. She collected books on Catholic theology and at times gave lectures on faith and literature, traveling quite far despite her frail health. Her bed-time reading was none other than the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas.[citation needed] She also had a wide correspondence, including such famous writers as Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. She never married, relying for companionship on her correspondence and on her close relationship with her mother. O'Connor completed over two dozen short stories and two novels while lupus ravaged her body. She died on August 3, 1964, at the age of 39. Ms. Redick's favorite O'Connor story is A Good Man is Hard to Find.

John Millington Synge/was an Irish playwright, poet, prose writer. . He was one of the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre and is best known for the play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots during its opening run at the Abbey theatre. He wrote many famous stories like "Riders to the Sea" which is often considered to be his best literary work. In 1896 he visited Italy to study the language for a time before returning to Paris. Later that year he met William Butler Yeats, who encouraged Synge to live for a while in the Aran Islands and then return to Dublin and devote himself to creative work. Synge suffered from Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that was at the time untreatable. He died just weeks short of his 38th birthday and was at the time trying to complete his last play, The Last Black Supper. Ms. Redick's favorite Synge play is "Riders to the Sea".

Margaret Mitchell - Mitchell is reported to have begun writing Gone With the Wind while bedridden with a broken ankle. Her husband, John Marsh, brought home historical books from the public library to amuse her while she recuperated. After she supposedly read all the historical books in the library, he told her, "Peggy, if you want another book, why don't you write your own?"Mitchell lived as a modest Atlanta newspaperwoman until a visit from MacMillan editor Harold Latham, who visited Atlanta in 1935.[5] Latham was scouring the South for promising writers, and Mitchell agreed to escort him around Atlanta at the request of her friend, Lois Cole, who worked for Latham, who was enchanted with Mitchell, and asked her if she had ever written a book. Mitchell demurred. "Well, if you ever do write a book, please show it to me first!" Latham implored. Later that day, a friend of Mitchell, having heard this conversation laughed. "Imagine, anyone as silly as Peggy writing a book!" she said. Mitchell stewed over this comment, went home, and found most of the old, crumbling envelopes containing her disjointed manuscript. She arrived at The Georgian Terrace Hotel, just as Latham prepared to depart Atlanta. "Here," she said, "take this before I change my mind!" Latham bought an extra suitcase to accommodate the giant manuscript. When Mitchell arrived home, she was horrified over her impetuous act, and sent a telegram to Latham: "Have changed my mind. Send manuscript back." But Latham had read enough of the manuscript to realize it would be a blockbuster. He wrote to her of his thoughts about its potential success. MacMillan soon sent her an advance check to encourage her to complete the novel — she had not composed a first chapter. She completed her work in March 1936. Gone With the Wind was published on June 30, 1936.

Martin Amis/Martin Amis read comic books until his stepmother, the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, introduced him to Jane Austen, a writer he often names as his earliest
influence. Ms. Redick's favorite Amis piece is The Information.

Truman Capote/When he was four, his parents divorced, and he was sent to Monroeville, Alabama, where he was a neighbor and friend of Harper Lee, who grew up to write To Kill a Mockingbird. On Saturdays, he made trips from Monroeville to Mobile, and when he was ten, he submitted his short story, "Old Mr. Busybody," to a children's writing contest sponsored by the Mobile Press Register. Ms. Redick's favorite Capote piece is Breakfast at Tiffany's

Lorraine Hansberry/ was born in Chicago, Illinois, Hansberry was the youngest of four children of Carl Augustus Hansberry (a prominent real estate broker) and Nannie Louise Perry. She grew up on the south side of Chicago in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
The family then moved into an all-white neighborhood, where they faced racial discrimination. Hansberry attended a predominantly white public school while her parents fought against segregation. Hansberry's father engaged in a legal battle against a racially restrictive covenant that attempted to prohibit African-American families from buying homes in the area. The legal struggle over their move led to the landmark Supreme Court case of Hansberry v. Lee, 311 U.S. 32 (1940). Though victors in the Supreme Court, Hansberry's family was subjected to what Hansberry would later describe as a "hellishly hostile white neighborhood." This experience later inspired her to write her most famous work, A Raisin in the Sun. She died on January 12, 1965, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 34. Her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff became the literary executor for several of her unfinished works. Notably, he adapted many of her writings into the play. Ms. Redick's favorite A Raisin in the Sun.

William Shakespeare - From 1594, Shakespeare's plays were performed only by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a company owned by a group of players, including Shakespeare, that soon became the leading playing company in London.[31] Ms. Redick's favorites: Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Hamlet.

Joni Mitchell/Mitchell's singing began in small nightclubs and busking on the streets of Toronto and in her native Western Canada. She subsequently became associated with the burgeoning folk music scene of the mid-1960s in New York City. Mitchell achieved fame in the late 1960s and was considered a key part of the Southern California folk rock scene. As a teenager, she taught herself ukulele and, later, guitar and began performing at parties, which eventually led to busking and gigs playing in coffeehouses and other venues in Saskatoon. After finishing high school, she attended the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary for a year, but then left, telling her mother: “I'm going to Toronto to be a folksinger”.
And so, after leaving art college in June 1964, Mitchell left her home in Saskatoon to relocate to Toronto. Joni also found out that she was pregnant by her college ex-boyfriend, and in February 1965 she gave birth to a baby girl. A few weeks after the birth, Joni married folk-singer Chuck Mitchell, and took his surname. He promised to help take responsibility for the child but something changed, and a few weeks later Joni gave her daughter, Kelly Dale Anderson, up for adoption. The experience remained private for most of her career, but she made allusions to it in several songs, most notably the song "Little Green" (from Blue), and, years later, the song "Chinese Cafe" from Wild Things Run Fast ("Your kids are coming up straight/My child's a stranger/I bore her/But I could not raise her"). Her daughter, renamed Kilauren Gibb, began a search for her as an adult, and the two were reunited in 1997. [5]
Throughout the 1970s, she explored and combined the pop and jazz genres. Mitchell has amassed a body of work that is highly respected by both critics and fellow musicians[2], with the influential All Music Guide going as far as stating that, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century". Ms. Redick's favorite Mitchell song is 'Chinese Cafe'.

James Joyce/In 1891, Joyce wrote a poem, "Et Tu Healy," on the death of Charles Stewart Parnell. His father was angry at the treatment of Parnell by the Catholic church and at the resulting failure to secure Home Rule for Ireland. The elder Joyce had the poem printed and even sent a copy to the Vatican Library. In 1916 appeared Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, an autobiographical novel. It apparently began as a quasi-biographical memoir entitled Stephen Hero between 1904 and 1906. Only a fragment of the original manuscript has survived. The book follows the life of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, from childhood towards maturity, his education at University College, Dublin, and rebellion to free himself from the claims of family and Irish nationalism. Stephen takes religion seriously, and considers entering a seminary, but then also rejects Roman Catholicism. "-Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using my defence the only arms I allow myself to use - silence, exile, and cunning." At the end Stephen resolves to leave Ireland for Paris to encounter "the reality of experience". He wants to establish himself as a writer. Ms. Redick's favorite: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Jane Austin/ Austin lived her entire life as part of a large and close-knit family located on the lower fringes of English gentry.[2] She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to Austen's development as a professional writer.[3 Ms. Redick's favorite Austin piece is Pride and Prejudice.

Langston Hughes was born James Mercer Langston Hughes in Joplin, Missouri. [1] After the separation of his parents, Carrie Langston Hughes (a teacher) and her husband, James Nathaniel Hughes, young Langston was raised mainly by his grandmother, Mary Langston, as his mother sought employment. Through the black American oral tradition of storytelling, she would instill in the young Langston Hughes a sense of lasting racial pride. While in grammar school in Lincoln, Illinois, he was designated class poet. Hughes stated in retrospect that this was because of the stereotype that African Americans have rhythm.[5] "I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows — except us — that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet." Ms. Redick's favorite Langston Hughes piece is Salvation.

Tom Stoppard/was born on July 3, 1937 in Zlín, Czechoslovakia[1] and moved to Singapore[1] with other Jews on March 15, 1939, the day the Nazis invaded. In 1941, the family was evacuated to Darjeeling, India, to escape the Japanese invasion of Singapore.[1] His father, Eugene Straussler, remained behind as a British army volunteer, and died in a Japanese prison camp after capture.[1] In India, Stoppard received an English education at the Mount Hermon School, Darjeeling. In late 1945, his mother Martha married a British army major named Kenneth Stoppard,[1] who gave the boys his English surname and moved the family with him to England after the war, in 1946.[1] Stoppard attended the Dolphin School in Nottinghamshire, and later completed his education at Pocklington School in Yorkshire. Stoppard left school at seventeen and began work as a journalist for Western Daily Press in Bristol.[1] Thus, he never received a university education. In 1958, the Bristol Evening World offered Stoppard the position of feature writer, humor columnist and secondary drama critic, which took Stoppard into the world of theater.[1] At the Bristol Old Vic (at the time a well-regarded regional repertory company),[1] Stoppard formed friendships with director John Boorman and actor Peter O'Toole early in their careers, and became known more for his strained attempts at humor[1] and unstylish clothes than for his writing.[1] By 1960, he had completed his first play A Walk on the Water,[1] which was later re-packaged as 1968's Enter a Free Man. Stoppard noted that the work owed much to Robert Bolt's Flowering Cherry and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.[1] Within a week after sending A Walk on the Water to an agent, Stoppard received his version of the "Hollywood-style telegrams that change struggling young artists' lives."[1] His first play was optioned, later staged in Hamburg, and then broadcast on British Independent Television in 1963.[1] Ms. Redick's favorite Stoppard play is The Real Thing.

Dorothy Allison /(born April 11, 1949) is an American lesbian writer, speaker, and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She was raised in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of her 15-year-old, unwed mother. She is legally blind in her right eye. In the early 1970s, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) on a National Merit scholarship. While in college, she joined the women's movement by way of a feminist collective. She credits the "militant feminists" for encouraging her decision to write. After graduating with a B.A. in anthropology[1], she did graduate studies in anthropology at Florida State University and the New School for Social Research. She is best known for her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, which is Ms. Redick's favorite.