New Year’s Day in book history

A review of the *book in question is yet to come, but for a quick teaser today…

Born today: in 1879; E.M. Forster, and in 1919, J.D. Salinger. A big birthday for people who go by two leading initials and are well known for their classic works!! And died today: in 2002, Julia Phillips (You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again) and in 2007, Tillie Olsen (Tell Me a Riddle, Silences).

Of the other literary notes assigned to January 1st I am choosing my favorite to share with you:

1947: In a Guide to Your Child’s Development she has purchased for the purpose, Charlotte Haze notes on the twelfth birthday of her daughter, Dolores, that the girl is fifty-seven inches tall and possesses an IQ of 121. She also completes an inventory of the child’s qualities: “aggressive, boisterous, critical, distrustful, impatient, irritable, inquisitive, listless, negativistic (underlined twice) and obstinate.”

(Negativistic, indeed!)

…For Charlotte’s new husband, Humbert Humbert, this list of epithets is “maddening” in its viciousness toward the girl he calls Lolita and claims to love. But he has his own reasons to revolt at the child’s birthdays: after just a few more of them she’ll no longer be a “nymphet,” and soon after that she’ll be – “horror of horrors” – “a ‘college girl.'”

What fun!

reader's book of days*The book in question is A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year, by Tom Nissley, and was a gift from my parents on my most recent visit to see them in the chilly north. I have only flipped through it so far (which is what it’s designed for, obviously), but I will be giving it a closer inspection and writing up a proper review for you at some point this year.

The other thing I will be doing with it is keeping it handy for those few days when I’m scrambling for a blog post! (rubs hands together) Thanks, Mom and Pops, for helping out!

4 Responses

  1. I had the idea that E.M. was more prolific than J.D., but a bit of research revealed that he wasn’t ahead by much in terms of novels, but he wrote a lot of other types of fiction and nonfiction (I confess I had mainly known him through the movies made from his books).

    Loved the other literary note, too . When the Modern Library was going to award their “best novel of the 20th century” award, their survey kept coming up with Lolita, and I remember reading about the gyrations they had to go through to come up with a different result.

    • Huh. I believe I had the same impression of the relative prolific…ness of each. Thanks for the education!

      I would vote for Lolita at least in the top group!

      Happy new year!

  2. Happy new year, by the way. 🙂

  3. […] I’ve done before, I figured I’d note today’s (consumerist, contrived) holiday with some book history, […]

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