Jonathan Coe, Li-Young Lee, Ogden Nash, Frank McCourt, James Gould Cozzens

De Engelse schrijver Jonathan Coe werd geboren op 19 augustus 1961 in Birmingham.

Uit: The Closed Circle


Sister Dearest, The view from up here is amazing, but it’s too cold to write very much. My fingers can barely hold the pen. But I promised myself I’d start this letter before returning to England, and this really is my last chance. Last thoughts, then, on leaving the European mainland? On coming home? I’m scouring the horizon and looking for omens. Calm sea, clear blue sky. Surely that has to count for something. People come up here to kill themselves, apparently. In fact there’s a boy further down the path, standing dangerously close to the edge, who looks as though he may be planning to do exactly that. He’s been standing there for as long as I’ve been on this bench and he’s only wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Must be freezing. Well, at least I haven’t got to that point yet; although there have been some bad moments, these last few weeks. Moments when it seemed like I’d lost my bearings completely, that it was all spinning out of control. You must have known that feeling, once. In fact I know you did. Anyway, it’s over now. Onwards and upwards. Beneath me I can see Etretat, the wide curve of its beach, the pinnacled rooftops of the chateau where I stayed last night. I never did manage to explore the town. Funny how, when you have the freedom to do anything you want, you end up doing so little. Infinite choice seems to translate into no choice at all. I could have headed out for sole dieppoise and ended up being plied with free Calvados by a flirty waiter; instead I stayed inside and watched some old Gene Hackman movie dubbed into French.
I wonder how they manage to make a profit from this line, at this time of year? Apart from me and the man behind the counter–what should I call him, is he the steward or purser or something?–this place is deserted. It’s dark outside now and there is rain flecking the windows. Perhaps it’s just spray. Makes me want to shiver looking at it, even though it’s warm inside, almost overheated. I’m writing this letter in the little A5 notebook I bought in Venice.”



Jonathan Coe (Birmingham, 19 augustus 1961)


De Amerikaanse dichter Li-Young Lee werd geboren op 19 augustus 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesië.



A Story 


Sad is the man who is asked for a story

and can’t come up with one.


His five-year-old son waits in his lap.

Not the same story, Baba. A new one.

The man rubs his chin, scratches his ear.


In a room full of books in a world

of stories, he can recall

not one, and soon, he thinks, the boy

will give up on his father.


Already the man lives far ahead, he sees

the day this boy will go. Don’t go!

Hear the alligator story! The angel story once more!

You love the spider story. You laugh at the spider.

Let me tell it!


But the boy is packing his shirts,

he is looking for his keys. Are you a god,

the man screams, that I sit mute before you?

Am I a god that I should never disappoint?


But the boy is here. Please, Baba, a story?

It is an emotional rather than logical equation,

an earthly rather than heavenly one,

which posits that a boy’s supplications

and a father’s love add up to silence,




From Blossoms 


From blossoms comes

this brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from the joy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward

signs painted Peaches.


From laden boughs, from hands,

from sweet fellowship in the bins,

comes nectar at the roadside, succulent

peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,

comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.


O, to take what we love inside,

to carry within us an orchard, to eat

not only the skin, but the shade,

not only the sugar, but the days, to hold

the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into

the round jubilance of peach.


There are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background; from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to

impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.


Li-Young Lee (Jakarta, 19 augustus 1957)


 De Amerikaanse dichter Frederic Ogden Nash werd geboren in Rye, New York, op 19 augustus 1902. 


No Doctor’s Today, Thank You 


They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful,

well, today I feel euphorian,

Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetitite of a


Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,

Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle

any swashes?

This is my euphorian day,

I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.

I will tame me a caribou

And bedeck it with marabou.

I will pen me my memoirs.

Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!

I wasn’t much of a hand for the boudoirs,

I was generally to be found where the food was.

Does anybody want any flotsam?

I’ve gotsam.

Does anybody want any jetsam?

I can getsam.

I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,

I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.

I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because

I am wearing moccasins,

And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.

Kind people, don’t think me purse-proud, don’t set me down as


I’m just a little euphorious.



Ogden Nash (19 augustus 1902 – 19 mei 1971)


De Iers-Amerikaanse schrijver Frank McCourt werd geboren op 19 augustus 1930 in New York. Frank McCourt overleed op 19 juli van dit jaar. Zie ook mijn In Memoriam van 19 juli 2009.


Uit: Tis

When the MS Irish Oak sailed from Cork in October 1949, we expected tobe in New York City in a week. Instead, after two days at sea, we were told wewere going to Montreal in Canada. I told the first officer all I had was fortydollars and would Irish Shipping pay my train fare from Montreal to New York. Hesaid, No, the company wasn’t responsible. He said freighters are the whores ofthe high seas, they’ll do anything for anyone. You could say a freighter is likeMurphy’s oul’ dog, he’ll go part of the road with any wanderer.Two days later Irish Shipping changed its mind and gave us the happy news,Sail for New York City, but two days after that the captain was told, Sail forAlbany.The first officer told me Albany was a city far up the Hudson River, capitalof New York State. He said Albany had all the charm of Limerick, ha ha ha, agreat place to die but not a place where you’d want to get married or rearchildren. He was from Dublin and knew I was from Limerick and when he sneered atLimerick I didn’t know what to do. I’d like to destroy him with a smart remarkbut then I’d look at myself in the mirror, pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teethand know I could never stand up to anyone, especially a first officer with auniform and a promising future as master of his own ship. Then I’d say tomyself, Why should I care what anyone says about Limerick anyway? All I hadthere was misery.Then the peculiar thing would happen. I’d sit on a deck chair in the lovelyOctober sun with the gorgeous blue Atlantic all around me and try to imaginewhat New York would be like. I’d try to see Fifth Avenue or Central Park orGreenwich Village where everyone looked like movie stars, powerful tans,gleaming white teeth. But Limerick would push me into the past. Instead of mesauntering up Fifth Avenue with the tan, the teeth, I’d be back in the lanes ofLimerick, women standing at doors chatting away and pulling their shawls aroundtheir shoulders, children with faces dirty from bread and jam, playing andlaughing and crying to their mothers.“



Frank McCourt (19 augustus 1930 – 19 juli 2009)



Zie voor de twee bovenstaande schrijvers ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 20006.

De Amerikaanse schrijver James Gould Cozzens werd geboren op 19 augustus 1903 in Chicago.


Uit: Guard of Honor


„What Woody did was compose and immediately fire off a TWX message to the Chief of Air Staff. Naturally, he had known and flown with this officer back in his comical bastard days. Woody now said that every AT-7 he had or could lay his hands on was absolutely indispensable to the Sellers Field program. Giving one to General Beal was quite out of the question. He made an oblique but unmistakable reference to those fancies of his about his superiors at Fort Worth. He made another, incoherent but no doubt intelligible enough, to the duplication of effort, waste, and working
at cross-purposes bound to result when exempt organizations under the Chief of Air Staff, like AFORAD, supposed to do God Knows What, were given the inside track on everything.

At the Headquarters of the Army Air Forces the second summer of the war was a nervous time. They still put up those signs about doing the difficult at once and requiring only a little longer to do the impossible. Nearly every day they were forced to make momentous decisions. On their minds they had thousands of planes and hundreds of thousands of men and billions of dollars. Their gigantic machine, which, as they kept saying, had to run while it was being built, gave them frightening moments and bad thoughts to lie awake at night with.

Now, then, toward the end of the usual exhausting day, came a long and stupid message which, if it were going anywhere, should have gone to Fort Worth. It fretted them about one training plane. It lectured them on what was indispensable to Sellers Field (the AAF had so many fields that you could not find one man who knew all the names). It informed them that the Training Command was not run properly and that the project at Ocanara was a poort idea.“



James Gould Cozzens (19 augustus 1903 – 9 augustus 1978)


Zie voor alle bovenstaande schrijvers ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2007 en ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2008.

 Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 19e augustus ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.