All posts filed under: Author

Joseph Brodsky

I studied Russian for a single year and I love the way the syllables round over the tongue. Take Brodsky’s full name for example: Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky. It tastes good. Brodsky defined himself as Jewish, a Russian poet, an English essayist, and an American citizen. Born in 1940 in Leningrad, Brodsky grew up in Soviet society with extreme poverty and totalitarianism. Brodsky began to write poetry early on, publishing in underground journals. He never really stuck with an appropriate career path. The Soviet government charged him with “social parasitism” in 1964, because he didn’t support the motherland. Brodsky’s poetry circulated in the West, and in his detention in 1964, he also became a symbol of artistic resistance. In 1972, he was strongly advised to emigrate. Brodsky wanted to stay in Russia, but was eventually “evicted” and flown to Austria. From there, he travelled to USA, where he found his future base, writing and lecturing at a number of prominent universities. Brodsky was award the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987. Brodsky died of a heart …

Judy Blume

I don’t know Judy Blume! I write that with some incredibility in every keystroke, because Judy’s books have sold over 80 million copies in 30 some languages. That is truly amazing! Judy Blume was born in 1938 in Elizabeth, New Jersey and dreamed on a life where she wasn’t a dentist like her father nor a homemaker like her mother, but she never dreamed of becoming a writer. She always had a lively imagination, but it wasn’t until she had children of her own, that she began to put pen to paper. A plethora of children’s and young adult novels followed (and three adult novels). Judy has an amazing website, which I highly recommend. It is full of interesting information about Judy’s books, about writing, and about anticensorship. (Hurray!) Here is for example what Judy says about rewriting: [T]o me, rewriting is the most exciting part of the process. When I’m rewriting, I feel most creative. I’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle and now I get to put them together. I go through …

Fannie Flagg

Fannie Flagg, whose given name is Patricia Neal, is most famous for the novel and the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café”. Fannie was born in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama, and Alabama plays an important in “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “I Still Dream about You”, which I recently read. Fannie Flagg started out as an actress and comedienne. A professional name was needed, as there already was an actress by the name of Patricia Neal. During the 70’s and 80’s Fannie began writing novels, even though she is dyslexic. I really haven’t been able to find that much more about Fannie Flagg. She’s connected to a lot of TV shows. She won an Academy Award for the script to “Fried Green Tomatoes”, but it seems that Fannie isn’t first in line when it comes to interviews. I did find one in Southern Living, where she talks about Birmingham, Alabama and the autobiographical traits in “I Still Dream About You”. (Photo: Andrew Southam, Southern Living)  

Joyce Carol Oates

She was born in 1938 and she is the author of more than 50 novels and numerous short stories, essays, and whatnot. Joyce Carol Oates is astonishing. Award-winning, but that goes without saying, but something I find interesting is, that she has a distance from her work, saying that she has thrown entire novels out “cheerfully”. “Find interesting” is an understatement; my jaw dropped! Here I am at age 36, beaming because I’ve written 50.000 words, one after the other, but not so that the words are anything together – yet, and Joyce Carol Oates writes novels day in and day out and even writes some that she chooses not to publish. Amazing! Need I mention, that Joyce Carol Oates was 26 years old, when she published her first novel? In my own quiet mind, I find that Joyce Carol Oates is a literary unicorn. She is so close to a mythical being, and yet I know she exists. (I’ll save the unicorn existence to a later date, but one word: narwhal.) I tip my …

Sherman Alexie

I appreciate finding quotations from authors or others, that I simply don’t know. The quotation by Sherman Alexie is one of them. Sherman was born in 1966 and has strong Native American ancestry. I’ve done a little research online, and I couldn’t help chuckle at the front page of Sherman’s own homepage. It says: My conclusion is that Sherman definitely has humor. I find it interesting that the study of Sherman’s books was banned in Arizona schools in 2012. The mere notion of banning books is archaic to me, even more so when the author is award winning. Sherman’s books, which include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007) and War Dances (2009) – winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, explore despair, poverty, violence and alcoholism in Native Americans.

Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac was born in 1799. Balzac came from an up and coming family. His father was a self-made man who married for wealth. Balzac was privileged in many ways, but from what I have read, he did not seem content in his youth. After studying at Sorbonne, he was apprenticed in law, but gave it up as it was too much of a grindstone. He proclaimed he wanted to be a writer. On his way, he thought up and participated in a number of business ventures that left him in debt. The early works are of varied quality. Today he is revered as one of the founders of realism in European literature with his monumental La Comédie Humaine and is compared to Charles Dickens. Parts of his life do read like a novel. In February 1832, Balzac received a letter from a stranger in Odessa. He replied through a classified ad in Gazette de France – and that sparked a long, passionate correspondence between Balzac and Ewelina Hanska. After the death of her …

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker is one of whose name that I heard a number of times, but I know nothing really about Dottie Dear. The predominant image of Dorothy Parker is life of the party, fashionable, wisecrack, and probably provocative for her time (1893-1967). She published her first volume of poetry in 1926 (Enough Rope) and The Nation called it “caked with a salty humor, rough with splinters of disillusion, and tarred with a bright black authenticity.” Dorothy was née Rothschild, but despite the wealthy family name, her childhood was anything but a piece of cake. Her mother died, when Dorothy was very young, and Dorothy grew up to resent her father and stepmother. She sold her first poem to Vanity Fair in 1914 and worked with both Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was a founding member of Algonquin Round Table and became known for her sharp wit. She relocated to Hollywood and worked on a number of movies there, but her political involvement in civil rights caused her head wind. The FBI allegedly had a 1000 …

Henry David Thoreau

”I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself.” Henry David Thoreau was not an instant success. The publisher of his first book returned just over 700 unsold volumes to Thoreau. Now on the other hand, Thoreau is an author, philosopher, and naturalist of international reclaim. From reading Walden, probably Thoreau’s most popular book, I remember pondering how he made ends meet. He continued to work for his family’s pencil factory and was under the inspiring wing of Emerson with jobs as tutor for Emerson’s sons and gardener. In addition, Thoreau chose to live a simpler life spending two years in a self-built hut on the bank of Walden Pond. I believe, that Thoreau, who lived from 1817 – 1862, in many ways was out of the ordinary. His yearning for a simpler living was not brought about by famine, economic ruin, or a lawman, close on his trail as many of the new comers in America, during the period. Thoreau in some ways existed in his own …

L. M. Montgomery

She was a prolific writer, writing 20 novels, 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays, and still Lucy Maud Montgomery is accredited with commenting that she had yet to produce her greatest work. L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874, and grew up with her maternal grandparents. She attained a teaching certificate and taught at different island school. Teaching was never her calling, but it affording her the opportunity to write. She wrote “Anne of Green Gables” in 1908 and it was an instant success. L.M. Montgomery was a beautiful woman and had a number of suitors, but did not marry until 1911 after a five-year engagement. Her husband was Ewen Macdonald, a minister. The life of a married woman did not fit L. M. Montgomery. She had bouts of depression, from which she recovered through storytelling. She continued to write until her death in 1942. At the time, it was said that she died of natural causes, but she left a cryptic note that could be read as a suicide note, but of course, …

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce sounds like someone I would love to have a conversation with. He was intelligent, a satirist, journalist, writer and critic – and he lived through a tumultuous period of American history. Ambrose also called Bitter Bierce was born in a log cabin in Ohio in 1842 and even as a young man, he worked for a publisher. I admire people who find their shelf in life early. They appear so sure of themselves. However, Ambrose’s path swerved with the onset of the American Civil War. He enlisted in the Union Army, fought at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, and eventually sustained a head injury causing him to leave the army. In much of his fictional writing, war is a central theme. He returned to his publishing path in San Francisco and with a stint in England. Ambrose was controversial in most of his writings, which caused ruffles. He worked for Hearst during a long period despite controversy. The satirical and controversial were thematic and Ambrose published The Devil’s Dictionary with an …