Monday, October 22, 2007

This Week in Reading October 21 - 27

This week continues the string of weeks with the birthdays of Nobel prizewinning authors but only by the briefest of margins; Doris Lessing who received the latest Nobel Prize in Literature just two weeks ago was born October 22, 1919. Alfred Nobel himself was born in this week. Do we count him?

Fittingly, it is a week of strong literary voices of some very talented feminist writers. Ursula K. LeGuin is one of the most fascinating speculative fantasy creators that has ever been called a Science Fiction writer. Her stories and novels have depth into individual and group psychology, essentially the software of humanity, that goes far beyond the genre's fascination with just the hardware of the future. In fact, my favorite story of hers is The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas in The Wind's Twelve Quarters. It should be read by everyone concerned about America today.

And we also have novelists Maxine Hong Kingston, Anne Tyler, crime writer Ann Rule, poet Denise Levertow, playwright Enid Bagnold, and other women of exceptional note this week. It's their week. Michael Crichton, Dylan Thomas, and Pat Conroy should feel honored to be listed with them.

This Week's Question: Moss Hart, also born this week, was a spectacular Broadway director who teamed up with another writer to create some of America's most performed comedies. Who was the other playwright? Which of them wrote screenplays later?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Noah Webster's Elementary Spelling Book, which was called simply "The Blue-Back Speller" by most people, earned him one cent per copy from its first edition (under another title) in 1786 through his lifetime and sold over a milllion copies per year years after his death in 1843. It was enough to keep him going while he compiled his monumental American dictionary. His books are the reason Americans use "er" and "or" while the British spell words as "centre" and "honour" and the like. He also helped America create copyright laws and started spelling bees.

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