Thursday, August 16, 2018

Notes For August 16th, 2018

This Day In Literary History

On August 16th, 1920, the legendary American writer Charles Bukowski was born. He was born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Germany. His father was an American serviceman, his mother a German woman. They married a month before he was born.

In 1923, just before little Heinrich's third birthday, the economic collapse in Germany compelled his family to emigrate to America. They settled in Los Angeles, where his mother changed his name to Henry Charles Bukowski.

As a young boy, Charles Bukowski grew up with an abusive father who would beat him savagely for the smallest offense. Due to the Great Depression, the elder Bukowski was frequently unemployed, a source of great shame that fueled his psychotic rage.

Charles' mother, who was not only beaten by her husband but cheated on as well, did nothing to stop her husband's abuse of their son - or herself. So it continued.

When he was a young teenager, Charles' shy and introverted nature grew worse, thanks to a case of severe acne that left his face covered with boils. Around this time, his two greatest passions were awakened - his passion for literature and his passion for alcohol.

Bukowski preferred to be alone. He read avidly. He also began writing short stories. His best friend, William "Baldy" Mullinax, introduced him to booze. Of his first experience with intoxication, he wrote, "This [alcohol] is going to help me for a long time."

After high school, Bukowski enrolled in Los Angeles City College, where he studied art, journalism and literature. He dropped out two years later, deciding to move to New York City and become a writer.

In July of 1944, the nearly 24-year-old Bukowski, who had been living in Philadelphia, found himself arrested by FBI agents and charged with suspicion of draft evasion.

Held for over two weeks in Moyamensing Prison, he was then released and taken to be inducted into the military. He failed the psychological exam, was classified 4F, (unfit for military service) and let go.

That same year, Bukowski's first published short story, Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip, appeared in Story magazine. Soon, more of his stories appeared in other literary magazines.

Unfortunately, he racked up far more rejection slips than sales. Discouraged, he quit writing for nearly a decade. He would refer to this period of time as his "ten year drunk."

He took up the life of a drifter and moved from place to place, doing odd jobs and staying at cheap rooming houses. He drank and brawled from bar to bar. He loved to go to the track and play the ponies.

In the early 1950s, Bukowski took a job as a letter carrier for the Postal Service, which would last almost three years. By 1955, he found himself hospitalized, suffering from a severe, nearly fatal bleeding ulcer.

After he was released, while he recovered at home, he decided to give writing another try. He began writing poetry, and within his verse, he found the muse. He continued to write poetry prolifically, and throughout his career, he would author over 1,000 poems.

As he made his rounds drinking from bar to bar, Bukowski would read his poetry to his fellow patrons, dazzling both barflies and bartenders who couldn't believe that a disheveled, boisterous drunk could write such incredible verse.

He became the poet laureate of the lower class, "the Bard of Booze and Broads" who found sublimity on skid row. Soon, his poems began appearing in literary magazines. This time, his rejection slips were few and far between.

By 1960, Bukowski's first poetry collection, Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail, was published. At the time, he had taken another position with the Postal Service, working as a letter filing clerk. The job would last for nine years.

In 1962, he found out that Jane Cooney Baker, (a widowed alcoholic eleven years his senior) the first woman he ever loved - perhaps the greatest love of his life - had died. So, he immortalized her in a series of poems and short stories. He met poet Frances Smith, who became his live-in girlfriend. In 1964, they had a daughter, Marina.

Three years later, in 1967, Charles Bukowski began writing a column for Open City, an underground newspaper based in Los Angeles. Titled Notes of a Dirty Old Man, the column was so popular that it got picked up by the Los Angeles Free Press and the NOLA Express (an underground newspaper based on New Orleans) after Open City folded in 1969.

That year, publisher John Martin of the Black Sparrow Press, now known as Black Sparrow Books, impressed with his poetry collections, offered to provide the financial support for Bukowski to write full time, in exchange for which he would become the author's exclusive publisher.

A lifelong supporter of the independent small press, Bukowski accepted the offer, quit his job at the Postal Service,, and began work on his first novel. Post Office (1971), an autobiographical novel based on his later years, was the first to feature his alter ego, alcoholic writer Henry Chinaski.

Although Bukowski's publisher, John Martin, worried that he wouldn't be able to make the transition from poetry to prose, the novel proved to be a breakout work that made its author's name as a writer.

Bukowski would write more memorable novels, including Factotum (1975), which found Henry Chinaski drifting through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, circa 1944. His most famous novel, Ham on Rye (1982), told the story of Henry Chinaski's unhappy childhood and adolescence as he grows up to become a misanthropic antihero.

Some scholars believe the title is a parody of The Catcher in the Rye, the title of J.D. Salinger's classic novel. Others believe that Ham on Rye refers to some literary critics' negative appraisal of Bukowski, whom they derided as the literary equivalent of a ham actor. Thus, the title refers to a ham writer fueled by rye whiskey.

Bukowski earned extra money by performing live readings of his poetry and prose. His first was a poetry reading performed in 1962 on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles.

When he performed at coffee houses and clubs, he always engaged in banter with his audience, which could be quite combative at times, as he usually performed in various states of intoxication.

In 1970, Bukowski gave a reading at Bellevue Community College in Washington State, which was taped by two students using the college's primitive black and white video cameras. Eighteen years later, the recording, thought long lost, was found.

It would be released on video as Bukowski at Bellevue in 1995, and later on DVD. The rough, grainy, stark black and white video perfectly captured the writer in all his gritty glory.

A 1979 reading given by Bukowski in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, would be released on DVD in 2010 as There's Gonna be a God Damn Riot in Here!

Bukowski's last public reading was given in 1980 at the Sweetwater, a punk rock club in Redondo Beach, California. It would be released on audio CD as Hostage and on DVD as The Last Straw.

In 1987, Charles Bukowski wrote the screenplay for a feature film based on his Henry Chinaski novels. Directed by the great French filmmaker Barbet Schroeder, Barfly starred Mickey Rourke as writer and skid row alcoholic Henry Chinaski.

Chinaski spends his days writing poetry and prose and his nights drinking and brawling at the local bar. He loathes the bartender, Eddie (Frank Stallone), especially after he finds out that Eddie slept with his girlfriend, Wanda (Faye Dunaway).

When Henry's writings begin appearing in literary magazines, they catch the eye of publisher Tully Sorenson (Alice Krige) who seeks Henry out, hoping to become his exclusive publisher.

She pays him a $500 advance and takes him to her home, where they have an affair. He rejoices in his literary success, but ultimately grows disenchanted with Tully's high society lifestyle.

Henry returns to his sleazy neighborhood, his blue collar bar, his bar buddies, and his ex-girlfriend, Wanda. Tully won't give him up without a fight, and actually gets into a fight with Wanda.

The film ends with Tully recognizing that Henry needs to be who he really is and wishing him luck. In the last scene, Henry, who has earned Eddie's respect, fights the bartender in the parking lot one last time, to win Wanda from him once and for all.

Bukowski would base his 1989 novel Hollywood on his experiences making the movie Barfly. He was also the subject of several acclaimed documentaries, including The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1983), directed by Barbet Schroeder, and Bukowski: Born Into This (2003), directed by John Dullaghan.

Charles Bukowski died of leukemia in 1994 at the age of 73. He left behind an impressive body of work that included over 30 poetry collections, six novels, nearly a dozen short story collections including his classic Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983), and several works of nonfiction.

Quote Of The Day

"My beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead Christmas trees of the world." - Charles Bukowski

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Charles Bukowski's classic last live poetry reading, The Last Straw. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Notes For August 15th, 2018

This Day In Literary History

On August 15th, 1885, the famous American writer Edna Ferber was born in Kalamazoo, Wisconsin. When she was twelve years old, her family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin. She graduated from high school there, then briefly attended Lawrence University.

After leaving university, Edna began a career in journalism, working as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal. In 1911, her first novel, Dawn O'Hara, was published.

Edna's novels featured strong female protagonists. One of her most popular characters, who appeared in several novels, was Emma McChesney, an intelligent, stylish divorced single mother who becomes a hugely successful businesswoman.

She was quite a controversial character for the time - the early 1900s. Her author's novels also dealt with racial or sexual discrimination, which were very controversial issues back then.

In 1924, Edna Ferber published the novel that won her a Pulitzer Prize for Literature. So Big told the story of Selina Peake De Jong, a schoolteacher in farm country, and her son Dirk, nicknamed So Big.

While teaching school, Selina lives on the Pool family farm. She forms a bond with the family's young son, Roelf, who wants to be an artist, not a farmer. She encourages him to pursue his dream, and he runs off to France.

Meanwhile, Selina marries a Dutch farmer named Purvus, and they have a son, Dirk. After Purvus dies of illness, Selina takes over their farm and makes it successful to provide for Dirk's future.

Dirk grows up to become a talented architect, but finds that he's more interested in making money than in his artistic talent. So, he switches gears and becomes a stockbroker. He makes a lot of money.

Dirk's fiancee, a famous artist named Dallas O'Mara, tries in vain to convince him that there are more important things in life than money. Meanwhile, Roelf Pool, now a famous sculptor, returns to town and visits Selina, who had encouraged him to pursue his dream.

Dallas falls in love with Roelf, who, like her, values art more than money. When Dirk finds out, he decides not to stand in the way of Dallas' happiness. She and Roelf run off together, and a heartbroken Dirk is left alone in his luxury apartment to contemplate all that his pursuit of money has brought him.

So Big was adapted as a feature film in 1932 and again in 1953. The 1953 version featured a different ending, as the original ending, with Dirk allowing his fiancee to run off with another man, was considered immoral under the stifling Production Code.

In 1926, Edna Furber published another classic novel, Show Boat. The story takes place on a "show boat" - one of many floating live theaters that traveled the Mississippi River in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The novel opens in the Reconstruction era South, moves on to New York City in the Roaring Twenties, and comes full circle, returning to the mighty Mississippi River. Show Boat would be adapted as a popular Broadway musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.

Edna's 1941 novel Saratoga Trunk and her 1958 novel Giant would also be adapted as Broadway musicals and feature films. Other novels would be adapted as acclaimed feature films.

Giant (1952) was a controversial epic novel set around the oil boom of the 1920s. It told the story a Texas cattleman who marries a wise and fiercely independent society woman. It was controversial because it accurately depicted the racist persecution and exploitation of Mexicans by white Texans.

Edna's 1958 novel Ice Palace would be adapted as a feature film in 1960. The film adaptation of Edna's tale of the fish cannery business in postwar Alaska featured Japanese American actor George Takei in a small role several years before he became famous as Lieutenant Sulu on the classic 1966-69 American TV series Star Trek.

Throughout her remarkable literary career, Edna Ferber wrote over two dozen novels. She died in 1968 at the age of 82.

Quote Of The Day

"Life can't defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death." - Edna Ferber

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete reading of Edna Ferber's classic novel, Fanny Herself. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Notes For August 14th, 2018

This Day In Literary History

On August 14th, 1834, the famous American writer Richard Henry Dana Jr. set sail from Boston, Massachusetts on an ocean journey during which he wrote his most famous book. His ship, the brig Pilgrim, was bound for California, which was still Mexican territory at the time.

Dana was a boy of nineteen when, like so many other young men, he heard the romantic call of the sea. He decided to keep a diary of his experiences as a sailor, which he would later turn into a book.

Two Years Before the Mast (1840) would prove to be one of the most popular and best selling nonfiction books of the 19th century, a classic work of American literature. It would inspire the legendary American writer Herman Melville to write his classic novel, Moby Dick (1851).

Before he signed on to the Pilgrim, Richard Henry Dana Jr. had envisioned life as a sailor to be a grand romantic adventure. The journey he chronicled in his diary was an adventure, but one fraught with hardship, ruthless oppression, and terror.

He quickly realized that "There is not so helpless and pitiable an object in the world as a landsman beginning a sailor's life." Common sailors were quartered "before the mast" - on the upper deck at the front of the ship.

While the captain and his main crew lived in comfortable quarters, common sailors were packed in like sardines and forced to brave the elements to do their work, which included standing outside on deck in the middle of storms to monitor the weather.

The captain was a cold blooded sadist and looked upon common sailors as expendable lower class scum. He beat them for pleasure, screaming at them, "If you want to know what I flog you for, I'll tell you... it's because I like to do it! Because I like to do it! It suits me! That's what I do it for!"

Although the captain had declared the Pilgrim a "temperance ship," he and his cronies kept a stock of rum for themselves. They also kept a stock of coffee, but denied the common sailors hot coffee to warm themselves in the freezing weather.

The journey took the Pilgrim and her crew around Cape Horn, where Richard Dana was awestruck by the "thundering sound" and "true sublimity" of the mammoth icebergs that seemed to surround his ship.

The Pilgrim was ill prepared for frozen waters and icebergs. One day, Dana, suffering from a badly infected tooth that swelled his mouth so much that he couldn't eat, went below deck for treatment. While recovering, he contemplated his situation.

"It was not easy to sleep," Dana wrote, "lying, as I did, with my head directly against the bows, which might be dashed in by an island of ice, brought down by the very next sea that struck her..."

When the Pilgrim landed on the coast of California, Dana explored the territory and got to know its people. In his book, he wrote the following about the people of 1830s Mexican California:

The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can make nothing for themselves. The country abounds in grapes, yet they buy bad wines made in Boston and brought round by us, at an immense price, and retail it among themselves at a real (12 1/2 cents) by the small wine-glass. Their hides, too, which they value at two dollars in money, they give for something which costs seventy-five cents in Boston; and buy shoes (like as not, made of their own hides, and which have been carried twice around Cape Horn) at three or four dollars...

After his two year tour of duty was over, Dana returned to Boston, where he would study law at Harvard and become a respected attorney specializing in maritime law. He defended many common sailors in court.

Dana's experiences on the Pilgrim instilled in him a deep compassion for the poor and oppressed. He was also a prominent and ferocious abolitionist. In 1840, the year he passed the bar, his classic book Two Years Before the Mast was published.

Richard Henry Dana Jr. would publish other nonfiction books and articles. In 1841, he published The Seaman's Friend, a handbook on seamanship and the legal rights and responsibilities of sailors. It became the standard textbook for all seamen.

Dana died of influenza in 1882 at the age of 66. His most famous book, Two Years Before the Mast, would be adapted as a feature film in 1946, co-starring Brian Donlevy as the author.

Quote Of The Day

“Better to be driven out from among men than to be disliked by children.” - Richard Henry Dana Jr.

Vanguard Video

Today's video features complete reading of Richard Henry Dana Jr's classic book, Two Years Before the Mast. Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2018

IWW Members' Publishing Successes

Paul Pekin

I just got a 4600 word short story published in a new magazine called Furtive Dalliance. I think you can access the rest of the magazine as well, including guidelines for writers. Thanks to the IWW for keeping me writing all these years, and thanks to Dave Gregory for the link.

Eric Petersen

My review of A Perfect Shot, a novel by Robin Yocum, has been published by the Internet Review of Books.

Dave Gregory

My ninth published story of 2018 is now online at Adelaide Literary Magazine. I wrote this just prior to joining the Fiction List at IWW. My wife lived this story, I simply embellished.

Adelaide Magazine publishes in print and online and is based out of Lisbon & New York. They are easy to work with, although they didn't correct a typo I pointed out. If you love dogs and sad stories, give this a read.

Cezarija E. Abartis

"Cinderella's Stepsister" (498 words) is up at Fanzine. This was one of five flashes in a series I workshopped here. I want to thank G. K. Adams, Mark Budman, Tony Awori, Jeff Reddekopp, Omolola Opatayo, Rick Bylina, Paul Pekin, Sue Ellis, and Aaron Troye-White for reviewing it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Notes For August 10th, 2018

This Day In Literary History

On August 10th, 1637, an Englishman named Edward King drowned at sea. His tragic death would inspire his college friend, the legendary English poet and polemicist John Milton, to compose a poem of elegy in his memory.

The poem, Lycidas, published three months after King's death, would prove to be one of the earliest and most famous poems in the elegiac tradition.

Some three centuries later, Milton's poem would inspire a legendary American novelist. It gave him the title of his first novel and influenced his writing.

The novelist was Thomas Wolfe, and the title of his classic first novel, Look Homeward, Angel, comes from the following passage in Milton's Lycidas:

. . . Ay me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding Seas
Wash far away, where ere thy bones are hurld,
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
Or whether thou to our moist vows deny'd,
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
Where the great vision of the guarded Mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;
Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.

The angel in Lycidas was St. Michael. The angel in Thomas Wolfe's novel was based on a statue his father had bought for his tombstone shop:

No one knew how fond he was of the angel. Publicly he called it his White Elephant. He cursed it and said he had been a fool to order it. For six years it had stood on the porch, weathering, in all the wind and the rain. It was now brown and fly-specked.

But it came from Carrara in Italy, and it held a stone lily delicately in one hand. The other hand was lifted in benediction, it was poised clumsily upon the ball of one phthisic foot, and its stupid white face wore the look of some soft stone idiocy.

The real angel statue was placed on the grave of a minister's wife in Asheville - Wolfe's North Carolina hometown. In the novel, the angel statue is bought by the town madam and placed on the grave of a young prostitute.

Many people in Asheville were appalled and infuriated by Look Homeward, Angel, and not just because the novel's content was a shocker for readers in 1929 - the year it was published.

Wolfe's characters were thinly veiled portraits of his friends, neighbors, and other townspeople. A review of the novel in a local newspaper declared that "Wolfe's First Is Novel of Revolt: Former Asheville Writer Turns in Fury upon North Carolina and the South."

Wolfe's sister Mabel recalled how the people of Asheville reacted: "They were denouncing him from the roofs and the corners and the housetops." In a letter to Mabel, Wolfe complained:

Apparently you can rob banks, be a crooked lawyer, swill corn whiskey, commit adultery with your neighbor's wife - and be considered a fine, lovable, misunderstood fellow; but if you try to make something true and beautiful you are "viciously insane" and your "big overgrown body" ought to be dragged through the streets by a lynching mob.

Finishing the letter, Thomas Wolfe summed up his fate this way: "Now I feel as if I have been exiled... It is like death... If then, I am dead to people who once knew me and cared for me, there is nothing more to say or do - I must go on into a new world and a new life, with love and sorrow for what I have lost."

Quote Of The Day

"This is the artist then; life's hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty's miser, glory's slave." - Thomas Wolfe

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete reading of John Milton's classic poem, Lycidas. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Notes For August 9th, 2018

This Day In Literary History

On August 9th, 1949, the legendary American mystery writer Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City. When he was nine years old, he began writing short stories. That same year, his family moved across the country to Los Angeles.

Kellerman had always been an avid reader; his fascination with creative writing led him to write prolifically from grade school through his college years. By the time he was doing his graduate work, he had written eight unpublished novels.

In college, Jonathan Kellerman studied psychology and determined to become a child psychologist. He did his post-graduate work at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, then opened a private practice. He also serves as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine.

He published his first scientific paper at the age of 22 and did his post graduate work designing and implementing psychotherapy for children with cancer. His program was the first ever to provide comprehensive emotional care to pediatric cancer patients and their families.

In his private practice, Kellerman strongly denounced the use of behavior modifying drugs like Ritalin on schoolchildren back when those medications were considered breakthrough drugs. He also opposed the use of antidepressants and other mood enhancing drugs on kids.

When he married his wife Faye, she was a dental hygienist who had just gotten her DDS from dental school. She bore him four children. Their eldest child, Jesse Kellerman, is also a writer.

Faye Kellerman never did practice dentistry. Instead, she became a bestselling mystery writer like her husband. The Kellermans are the only married couple to hit the New York Times bestseller list at the same time for two separate novels.

Jonathan Kellerman would base his most famous character on himself. This hugely popular character would serve as the main character and narrator of over two dozen mystery novels.

Dr. Alex Delaware, a brilliant child psychologist, made his debut in Kellerman's classic first novel, When the Bough Breaks, which was published in 1985.

In his first outing, Dr. Delaware is a man who seemingly has it all; a successful practice, a loving girlfriend, a gorgeous home in Southern California, a luxury car, and a passion for playing and collecting guitars.

Then, he took on a tough, troubling case: treating a group of children who had been repeatedly molested at their day care center by the husband of the woman who ran the place. Delaware's treatment of his young patients proves successful.

Then one day, their molester breaks into Delaware's office and commits suicide. Shattered by the case and burned out, Delaware decides to retire. Only in his thirties, he already has more than enough money to retire comfortably.

So, Delaware retires and takes up the life of a beach bum. His girlfriend Robin tries in vain to help him deal with his depression. Then, eccentric LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis shows up to ask for his help in solving a vicious double murder.

Tough, burly, and slovenly, Sturgis is also highly intelligent, relentlessly dedicated, and the first openly gay homicide detective to serve in the Los Angeles Police Department - a position complicated by the virulent homophobia that runs rampant in the department.

The detective's latest case has him stumped. A prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Morton Hander, has been found brutally murdered, along with his lover - a former patient. Sturgis' only lead lies with Melody Quinn, a psychologically troubled little girl who may have witnessed the murders.

Milo asks Alex Delaware to become a police consultant and try to get Melody to talk about what she might have seen. Reluctant at first, Delaware agrees to examine the girl. As he and Sturgis plunge into the case, Delaware is shocked when he discovers a link to the case that nearly destroyed him.

The trail of the bizarre case leads Delaware to some of the richest, most powerful families in America - and a horrific, murderous conspiracy to prostitute mentally and physically handicapped children to depraved psychopaths whose wealth and position places them above the law.

When the Bough Breaks won Jonathan Kellerman the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. So far, he has written over 30 Alex Delaware novels, with the doctor using his psychological expertise to help his best friend Detective Milo Sturgis solve bizarre and brutal crimes.

Kellerman's background as a psychologist gives his stories a strong sense of authenticity, despite the bizarre and horrific nature of the crimes Alex Delaware is tasked with helping to solve.

In Time Bomb (1990), a young woman opens fire on the grounds of an elementary school that two rival politicians are visiting because of some recent incidents of racist vandalism that occurred there. She is killed by the bodyguard of one of the politicians.

Refusing to believe that his daughter would hurt children, the girl's father asks Alex Delaware to conduct a psychological autopsy. The doctor concludes that the shooter wasn't targeting the children - she wanted to kill one of the politicians.

The intended victim is a known right wing extremist. Delaware and Detective Sturgis soon uncover a murderous neo-Nazi conspiracy to acquire political power and use it to create a Fourth Reich in America.

In Survival of the Fittest (1997), Dr. Delaware is asked to help solve the mysterious murder of a diplomat's daughter. The mildly retarded teenage girl was murdered in a deliberately gentle way to insure that she wouldn't suffer.

Soon, other children with disabilities are murdered in a similar way. Dr. Delaware's investigation leads him to Meta, a group of people with very high IQ's, a very strong belief in eugenics, and a psychopathic serial killer among their members.

In The Murder Book (2002), Dr. Delaware receives a mysterious package in the mail, sent by an anonymous person. It's a photo album labeled The Murder Book. It contains an elaborately assembled collection of what appear to be gruesome crime scene photos of murder victims.

Delaware turns The Murder Book over to Detective Sturgis, who is shocked when he recognizes one of the victims - a young woman who had been tortured, murdered, and dumped near the freeway.

That was the very first homicide case Sturgis ever worked - a crime he was unable to solve. Soon, Dr. Delaware finds himself confronting evil beyond even his psychologist's understanding of the human mind.

In addition to his Alex Delaware novels, Jonathan Kellerman has written other novels, (including two in collaboration with his wife, Faye Kellerman) children's books, and nonfiction books on subjects such as child psychology and vintage guitars.

His most recent Alex Delaware novel, Night Moves, was published in February. In it, Milo Sturgis calls on Alex Delaware once again when he'd faced with the most bizarre murder case he's ever worked. Though the victim's face and hands were removed, there's no blood at the crime scene.

The victim's mutilated corpse was found at the home of the Corvins, an affluent Los Angeles family, but Chet Corvin, his wife, and their two teenage children don't know who the unidentified victim is and have never seen him before.

As Milo and Alex begin their investigation, suspicion first falls on the Corvins' creepy, uncooperative next door neighbor, a notorious cartoonist infamous for his sick sense of humor and antisocial behavior.

But, as Alex Delaware knows, though the grass may be greener on the rich side of town, there's plenty of dirt beneath it, and dark secrets waiting to be uncovered...

Quote Of The Day

"That's what's so great about my job. I get paid to do what got me in trouble in grade school - space out and play with my imaginary friends. In terms of Isaac, when the time's right." - Jonathan Kellerman

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Jonathan Kellerman giving the keynote address at the 2015 American Psychological Association annual convention. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Notes For August 8th, 2018

This Day In Literary History

On August 8th, 1818, the legendary English poet John Keats returned home from a strenuous walking tour of the United Kingdom. The tour would take him through Scotland, Ireland, and the Lake District of Northwestern England.

Keats was accompanied by his friend, Charles Armitage Brown. Keats' brother George and his sister-in-law Georgina accompanied them as far as Lancaster. The couple then went to Liverpool. From there, they emigrated to America.

In July of 1818, while on the Scottish Isle of Mull, John Keats caught a bad cold. He continued on the walking tour and his cold worsened. He began showing the early signs of tuberculosis. Soon, he became too ill to remain on the tour.

Back home by August, Keats set about nursing his brother Tom, who was dying of tuberculosis, exposing himself to more infection. Tom died a few months later.

At that time, tuberculosis, then known as consumption, had not yet been identified as a bacterial infection of the lungs. It was seen as a weak person's illness, contracted by the physically or spiritually weak, in the latter case a symptom of either severely repressed or unbridled lust.

Since tuberculosis was believed to be caused by engaging in sexual practices considered sinful, (or the desire to engage in such practices) the disease carried with it a huge social stigma. Contracting tuberculosis was as humiliating as contracting a venereal disease.

John Keats would die of tuberculosis at the age of 25, three years after returning home from his walking tour. As his health deteriorated, he established himself as one of the greatest English Romantic poets of all time.

Ironically, during his short life, Keats' works were savaged by critics to the point that he was driven to despair by the bad reviews. His close friend and fellow poet Lord Byron urged him to buck up and not let the critics get to him.

Byron, recalling his own reaction to negative reviews, quipped, "Instead of bursting a blood-vessel, I drank three bottles of claret and began an answer." In his classic poem Don Juan, Byron described Keats' fate this way:

'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuffed out by an Article.

When John Keats died in 1821, tuberculosis had finally been identified as a bacterial infection. Though he was no longer shamed by the disease, a new myth began that dragged his name through the mud.

It was said - and even his friend Percy Shelley believed - that John Keats had been killed by bad reviews, too weak to withstand the critics' onslaught. In Adonais, Shelley's classic poem eulogizing Keats, he depicted the poet's critics as loathsome creatures like worms and reptiles.

Although Keats' girlfriend Fanny Brawne blamed Shelley's poem for exacerbating the myth of Keats' fragility, the real culprits were Keats's executors. He had wanted his epitaph to read, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water," but this is how his executors engraved his headstone:

This Grave contains all that was Mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET Who, on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart at the Malicious Power of his Enemies, Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone.

Quote Of The Day

"I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more - I could be martyred for my religion. Love is my religion - I could die for that." - John Keats

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a reading of John Keats' classic poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn. Enjoy!

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