The Writers Almanac has been full of famous birthdays the past couple of days. Get a load:
Today, March 26: A.E. Housman, Tennessee Williams, Joseph Campbell, and Robert Frost.
Yesterday, March 25: Flannery O'Connor
When I was young, I wanted to write like Flannery O'Connor. She was so in touch with everyday life and people, and so witty, and so wise. I have two favorite passages from her work:
"She had theseyer brown glasses, and her hair was so thin it was like ham gravy trickling over her skull." -- From Wise Blood
"Besides the neutral expression she wore when she was alone, Mrs. Freeman had two others, forward and reverse, that she used in all her human dealings." --
From "Good Country People"
Both of these women were somebody's mother. Wouldn't you just know?
How many people nowadays know what ham gravy looks like? For how many modern readers is that image indelible?
Happy birthday, Flannery! You other guys, too. Who knew that Joseph Campbell got his start thinking about stories and myths when his parents took him as a kid to the Museum of Natural History in NYC? And poor Robert Frost. What a series of calamities he lived through, what family sorrow. And Flannery dying at the age of 39 of lupus. Thirty-nine seems very young to have written such memorable, stirring literature.