“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world,” so said Henry R. Luce, the founder of Life and Time magazines who was born on this date in 1898.
Artist and writer Anita Willets-Burnham took two trips circumventing the globe, first in 1921 and again in 1928, and both times she brought her four children. She wanted to show them the world outside the classroom.
In 1930, she wrote about these travels – and how to afford them – in a memoir-meets-budget travelogue called Round the World on a Penny. Above is an image of the 1940 reedition of the best-seller, which boasts probably the best book cover in history, esp. the little monkey in the bottom right.
That is all.
….Don’t forget WW Norton/Countryman Press recently published my first endeavor, The Log Cabin: An Illustrated History, in which I use humor and cultural analysis to show how this seemingly simple structure shaped the complex American identity, for better and for worse.
Taking a few days to finish some pages. Will be back real soon.
Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding, would be 101 today.
In honor of her unparalleled work and life, here’s McCuller’s theory on immortality:
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”
Today marks the 277th anniversary of Boston-based publisher Andrew Bradford releasing American Magazine; or Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies.
Meanwhile, three days from now, February 16, marks the same amount of time since Bradford’s protégé and later rival, Benjamin Franklin, published his The General Magazine, and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America.
Neither publication lasted very long: American Magazine shuttered after three months and Franklin’s in six. Media in America, and in general, has always been a tough gig – and that’s putting it nicely.
In lieu of Tuesday’s traditional Word Play post, here are a few John Steinbeck quotes on the agony and ecstasy of being a writer. Mostly agony.
These quotes come from his 1953 essay “My Short Novels,” which originally appeared in the Literary Guild Review’s periodical, Wings, and which was reprinted in America and Americans, a collection put out by Penguin Classics.
The first note regards the writers’ complicated relationship with their work, how passion fades once the piece is done and gone:
“It is true that while a work is in progress, the writer and his book are one. When a book is finished, it is a kind of death, a matter of pain and sorrow to the writer. Then he [or she] starts a new book and a new life… The writer, like a fickle lover, forgets his old love. It is no longer his own: the intimacy and surprise are gone.”
And of these stories, “thrust out into an unfriendly world to make their way”? “They have experiences, too — they grow and change or wane and die, just as everyone does. They make friends or enemies, and sometimes they waste away from neglect.” 😦
Finally, after recounting how his first three novels failed to sell out, and how the $90 he earned from The Red Pony seemed like “more money than I thought the world contained” and encouraged him to continue, Steinbeck notes, astutely:
“It takes only the tiniest pinch of encouragement to keep a writer going, and if he gets none, he sometimes learns to feed even on the acid of failure.” It’s true. We writers are kind of like those sea creatures that feed off of noxious gases spewing from oceanic anuses, only less cute.