Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Notes for July 8th, 2009

This Day In Writing History

On July 8th, 1952, the bestselling writer Anna Quindlen was born in New York City. When she was nineteen years old, Quindlen's mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 40. Quindlen's relationship with her mother would become a big influence on her writing, which often deals with mother-daughter conflicts.

Anna Quindlen graduated from Barnard College in 1974. For her thesis, she wrote a collection of short stories, and one of them was published in Seventeen magazine. After graduating, she took up journalism and became a reporter for the New York Post. Three years later, in 1977, she left to work for the New York Times, and over the years, she held different positions with the venerable newspaper, including that of a columnist, and her column Life In The 30s became hugely popular. She later became a columnist for Newsweek, and her column Public And Private won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She married attorney Gerald Krovatin and bore him three children.

Quindlen wrote in her spare time, and her first book, a non-fiction work called Living Out Loud, was published in 1988. In 1991, she published her first novel, Object Lessons. It told the story of Maggie Scanlan, a 13-year-old girl coming of age in the 1960s as the only daughter in a family ruled by a domineering, intolerant, and sexist Irish-Catholic father. Maggie's mother also struggles to find a place for herself.

Quindlen's second novel, One True Thing (1994) was an even bigger bestseller. It incorporates more elements from her personal life. Ellen Gulden, a writer for a New York newspaper, has always idolized and been close to her father George, a celebrated novelist and college professor. She has never been close to her mother. When her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ellen's father orders her to come home and take care of her, even though he could afford to get professional help. Angered that her father would ask her to jeopardize her job, Ellen refuses, but her father guilt-trips her into becoming her mother's caregiver.

When George asks Ellen to write the introduction to an anthology of his writings, she's delighted. But soon, she begins to see a different side of him. As she takes care of her mother, he acts like she isn't sick at all, and he soon manipulates Ellen into doing his wife's chores, such as washing and mending his clothes. Ellen begins to question the reality of the image she always had of her father, and comes to reconcile with her mother. She realizes that although he's a brilliant writer, her father is also a very flawed man who has made many mistakes, including philandering - a memory Ellen had tried to suppress for years. Yet, he loves his wife dearly and can't bear to watch her slip away into death.

In 1995, following the success of One True Thing, Anna Quindlen realized that her schedule had become too hectic, so she resigned as a journalist and became a full-time writer. Her next novel, Black And Blue (1998) was selected by Oprah Winfrey's Book Club. It told the story of Fran Benedetto, a woman who flees with her 10-year-old son to escape her savagely abusive husband. Fran builds a new life for herself and her son and tries to put the past behind her. There's just one little problem: Fran's psychopathic ex-husband is a police officer, and he knows how to find people...

Anna Quindlen continues to write bestselling novels, as well as a series of non-fiction books and children's books. She has established herself as one of the top authors of women's fiction. She still writes a bi-weekly column for Newsweek.

Quote Of The Day

"I sometimes joke that my greatest shortcoming as a writer is that I had an extremely happy childhood." - Anna Quindlen

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Anna Quindlen reading an excerpt from her most recent novel, Rise And Shine. Enjoy!

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