Tuesday, August 22, 2017


dorothy parker.jpg

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Writer, critic, civil rights activist

The famed writer for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair also wrote screenplays at Paramount (her work won several Oscar nominations); got arrested for “loitering and sauntering” at a 1927 rally in support of Sacco and Vanzetti; opposed fascism in the 1930s and ‘40s and, for her pains, got blacklisted by Hollywood in the Fifties. Her spare, incisive short stories and verse have made The Portable Library version of her collected works only one of three in the series (with Shakespeare and The Bible) in print since its first publication in 1944. In a post-mortem farce she would have no doubt enjoyed (at 70 she said, “If I had any decency, I should be dead All my friends are”), Parker left her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, with playwright Lillian Hellman as her executor. Hellman overruled Parker’s wishes that there be no funeral, and held one that served mostly as a celebration of Parker’s supporting role as Hellman’s friend. After King’s murder a year later, her estate passed to the NAACP; Hellman contested the will, claiming she should inherit. She ended up being removed as executor. Parker’s ashes- no disposition having been made by Hellman, remained at the crematory for six years and on her lawyer’s desk, a shelf and in his filing cabinet for fifteen more. In 1988 the NAACP interred them in a memorial at its headquarters.

bradbury stamp.jpg

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
Science fiction writer

The self-described “Midwestern surrealist” grew up in Los Angeles and got hired to write jokes for Burns and Allen at fourteen. His first collection of short stories was published, in 1947, by Arkham House, the company that kept H.P. Lovecraft in print for decades. He was largely self-educated in libraries; he extolled them over formal education all his life. His masterwork, Fahrenheit 451, portrays a dystopian world in which individuals preserved banned literature by each “becoming” the memorized, walking edition of a classic. He wrote it on a rented typewriter (ten cents per half hour, total cost, $9.80) at the UCLA library. On a New York trip, all the publishing houses wanted a novel; he only had short stories. On his last day, a Doubleday editor suggested stitching some stories together into one. Bradbury worked all night in his YMCA room, typing up an outline. He left the next day with a large advance and the stitch-job resulted in The Martian Chronicles. Oddly, for life-long Angeleno, he never learned to drive. After he died at 91, his home was sold, and the people who bought it tore it down to erect a mcmansion.


E. Anne Proulx (1935- )

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Shipping News, Proulx has seen two of her works adapted into Academy Award-winning films (one, Brokeback Mountain, generated a memorable snippet of dialogue on the TV series Will & Grace: “Thanks for interrupting my sex dream just as Ang Lee and I were getting out of the pool. Will: A sex dream about Ang Lee? What was that like? Grace: Slow-paced, but visually stunning.”). Her honors include Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships; the O. Henry Award, and The Dos Passos Prize.


Colm Toibin (1955-  )
Author, critic, educator

A masterful Irish short-story writer, Toibin has held major academic posts in Europe and America. His novels include a haunting portrayal of the last years of the Anglo-American writer Henry James (The Master) and a fictional memoir by Jesus’ mother (The Testament of Mary) in her last years, angry and bewildered by the events of her life and how his disciples were casting her as a role in their narratives of events. Several of his works have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We enjoy hearing from visitors! Please leave your questions, thoughts, wish lists, or whatever else is on your mind.