Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Week in Reading July 20 - 26

This week ,and this time of year generally, just like late February and early March, give us many very well known writers whose births seem to be bunched together. There's an almost Stonehenge timing to things and one wonders if it's the ancient pattern of summer and harvest festivals bearing later fruit. Perhaps art follows seasonal agricultural cycles even as civilization moved to urban living. Perhaps also it's all coincidence.

Among the big names on the list who sold lots of books are Ernest Hemingway and Alexandre Dumas, Aldous Huxley, and George Bernard Shaw, Hart Crane and Cormac McCarthy. We have Carl Jung and Karl Menniger. For mystery fans there's no less than Los Angeles' own Raymond Chandler and Michael Connelly, along with John D. MacDonald. How about the biggest selling young adult author, S. E. Hinton? And that's not even half of the names you may recognize from the current list.

This Week's Question: How much are writers aware of other writers? Which author born this week boastfully assessed his literary skills with previous literary greats? "I started out very quiet and I beat Mr. Turgenev. Then I trained hard and I beat Mr. de Maupassant. I've fought two draws with Mr. Stendhal, and I think I have an edge in the last one. But nobody's going to get me in any ring with Mr. Tolstoy unless I'm crazy or I keep getting better."

Answer to Last Week's Question: Probably few people know of the author of the novel series about Quakers which began with
The Friendly Persuasion but many may know the movie. Jessamyn West grew up near Yorba Linda and was a Quaker though the novel, like most of her stories, was set in Indiana which she left at age six. She said, "Fiction reveals truths which reality obscures."

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