Readersforum's Blog

May 10, 2013

Literary Pets: The Cats, Dogs, and Birds Famous Authors Loved

William S. Burroughs and his cat Ginger in the backyard of his home in Lawrence, Kansas

William S. Burroughs and his cat Ginger in the backyard of his home in Lawrence, Kansas

By Maria Popova

Twain and Bambino, Browning and Flush, Dickens and Grip, Hemingway and Uncle Willie, and more.

The wonderful recent Lost Cat memoir, one of my favorite books of the past few years, reminded me of how central, yet often unsuspected, a role pets have played in famous authors’ lives throughout literary history.

Cats have inspired Joyce’s children’s books, T. S. Eliot’s poetry, Gay Talese’s portrait of New York, and various literary satire, while dogs have fueled centuries of literature, philosophy and psychology, interactive maps, and some of the New Yorker’s finest literature and art. Gathered here are some of literary history’s most moving accounts of famous writers’ love for their pets, culled from a wealth of letters, journals, and biographies.

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November 27, 2012

The Daily Routines of Famous Writers

Don DeLillo

 By Maria Popova

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

Kurt Vonnegut’s recently published daily routine made we wonder how other beloved writers organized their days. So I pored through various old diaries and interviews — many from the fantastic Paris Review archives — and culled a handful of writing routines from some of my favorite authors. Enjoy.

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October 15, 2012

E. B. White’s “Hymn to the Barn”

E. B. White           (1899 – 1985)

On this day in 1952, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web was published. Among children’s books, it continues to hold its place at or near the top of the ‘best of’ lists, though White’s pre-publication fear was that his “hymn to the barn” would be too low-key for most kids. And he was sure about the film: “The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don’t care much for jolly songs. The Blue Hill Fair, which I tried to report faithfully in the book, has become a Disney world, with 76 trombones.”

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October 1, 2012

E. B. White On Writing

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 5:46 pm

         E. B. White            (1899 – 1985)

On this day in 1985 E. B. White died at the age of eighty-six. White said near the end that, though he tried to keep writing, “I wish instead I were doing what my dog is doing at this moment, rolling in something ripe he has found on the beach in order to take on its smell. His is such an easy, simple way to increase one’s stature and enlarge one’s personality.”

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July 23, 2012

20 Best-Selling Children’s Books of All Time

Filed under: Children's books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:39 pm


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Image courtesy of Random House

By John Perritano

Authors come and go, while others, especially those who scribe for children, withstand the yellowing of the folios. For generations, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter and E.B. White have delighted parents and kids with their timeless tomes. No home library would be worth is shelf space without a mischievous cat in a hat, a lovable spider or a furry rabbit whose moniker is Peter.

While Seuss, White and Potter have been stalwarts on the best-selling list for generations, something wonderful, some would say magical, happened in the 1990s. A down-on-her-luck British writer, J.K. Rowling, waved a magic wand and changed children’s literature forever. She introduced us to a boy wizard in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Seven books later, Rowling became one of best-selling authors on this or any other planet, as Hogwarts, Muggle and Quidditch nuzzled their way into our cultural lexicon.

Rowling’s success blew holes in the all-time children’s best-seller list. The magazine, Publishers Weekly, was the last to catalog the best children’s books in 2001. That was long before Rowling’s last volume in 2007, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours, eclipsing in one day the all-time children’s best-seller, “The Poky Little Puppy”, first published in 1942 [sources: Forbes; Random House].

By 2011, Rowling had sold 450 million or so Harry Potter books . We say “or so” because trying to corral the sales figure of a book is like trying to capture a Golden Snitch during a round of Quidditch. In fact, by the time you finish reading this sentence, a few hundred more Harry Potters and Cat in the Hats have been sold.

Go to the next page and thumb through the 20 best-selling children’s books of all time incorporating the sales figures for, shall we say his name? Harry Potter. No doubt you might have favorite, or two.

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February 16, 2012

‘Charlotte’s Web’ and 99 more ‘great’ kids books

By Bob Minzesheimer

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s 60-year-old novel about how a determined farm girl and a noble, vocabulary-building spider save a naïve runt of a pig, is No. 1 on a new list of the “100 Greatest Books for Kids.”

The rankings, released today by Scholastic Parent & Child magazine, are aimed at “generating controversy and conversation,” says Nick Friedman, the magazine’s editor in chief.

In that spirit, why is J.K. Rowling’s groundbreaking debut, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, only No. 6, chosen to represent the entire series?

 

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October 1, 2011

E. B. White On Writing

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 4:48 am

E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

On this day in 1985 E. B. White died at the age of eighty-six. White said near the end that, though he tried to keep writing, “I wish instead I were doing what my dog is doing at this moment, rolling in something ripe he has found on the beach in order to take on its smell. His is such an easy, simple way to increase one’s stature and enlarge one’s personality.”

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June 13, 2011

New book reveals how E.B. White spun Charlotte’s Web

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:30 am

Click to buy

By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

In 1943, when E.B. “Andy” White still was mostly known as a magazine essayist, a New York Times critic dismissed White’s writing as “hogwash” and a “racket.”

Katharine White, a legendary editor at The New Yorker, rose to her husband’s defense: “They are not words that should be applied to anyone who is an honest man and an honest writer. Andy is both.”

A few years later, White would adapt his wife’s phrasing at the end of Charlotte’s Web, his classic children’s novel about a headstrong farm girl, a naive pig and a noble, vocabulary-building spider:

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

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