David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Nigel Cliff, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit: Calypso

“Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll acquire a guest room. Some people get one by default when their kids leave home, and others, like me, eventually trade up and land a bigger house. “Follow me,” I now say. The room I lead our visitors to has not been hastily rearranged to accommodate them. It does not double as an office or weaving nook but exists for only one purpose. I have furnished it with a bed rather than a fold-out sofa, and against one wall, just like in a hotel, I’ve placed a luggage rack. The best feature, though, is its private bathroom.
“If you prefer a shower to a tub, I can put you upstairs in the second guest room,” I say. “There’s a luggage rack up there as well.” I hear these words coming from my puppet-lined mouth and shiver with middle-aged satisfaction. Yes, my hair is gray and thinning. Yes, the washer on my penis has worn out, leaving me to dribble urine long after I’ve zipped my trousers back up. But I have two guest rooms.
The consequence is that if you live in Europe, they attract guests—lots of them. People spend a fortune on their plane tickets from the United States. By the time they arrive they’re broke and tired and would probably sleep in our car if we offered it. In Normandy, where we used to have a country place, any visitors were put up in the attic, which doubled as Hugh’s studio and smelled of oil paint and decaying mice. It had a rustic cathedral ceiling but no heat, meaning it was usually either too cold or too hot. That house had only one bathroom, wedged between the kitchen and our bedroom. Guests were denied the privacy a person sometimes needs on the toilet, so twice a day I’d take Hugh to the front door and shout behind us, as if this were normal behavior, “We’re going out for exactly twenty minutes. Does anyone need anything from the side of the road?”
That was another problem with Normandy: there was nothing for our company to do except sit around. Our village had no businesses in it and the walk to the nearest village that did was not terribly pleasant. This is not to say that our visitors didn’t enjoy themselves—just that it took a certain kind of person, outdoorsy and self-motivating. In West Sussex, where we currently live, having company is a bit easier. Within a ten-mile radius of our house, there’s a quaint little town with a castle in it and an equally charming one with thirty-seven antique stores. There are chalk-speckled hills one can hike up, and bike trails. It’s a fifteen-minute drive to the beach and an easy walk to the nearest pub.”


David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)


De Amerikaanse schrijfster Elizabeth Kostova werd geboren op 26 december 1964 in New London, Connecticut. Zie ook alle tags voor Elizabeth Kostova op dit blog.

Uit: The Shadow Land

“From her plane window, Alexandra had seen a city cradled in mountains and flanked by towering apartment buildings like tombstones. Stepping off the plane with her new camera in her hand, she’d breathed unfamiliar air—­coal and diesel and then a gust that smelled of plowed earth. She had walked across the tarmac and onto the airport bus, observed shiny new customs booths and their taciturn officials, the exotic stamp in her passport. Her taxi had looped around the edges of Sofia and into the heart of the city—­a longer route than necessary, she now suspected—­brushing past outdoor café tables and lampposts that bore political placards or signs for sex shops. From the taxi window, she’d photographed ancient Fords and Opels, new Audis with tinted gangster windows, large slow buses, and trolleys like clanking Megalosauruses that threw sparks from their iron rails. To her amazement, she’d seen that the center of the city was paved with yellow cobblestones.
But the driver had somehow misunderstood her request and dropped her here, at Hotel Forest, not at the hostel she’d booked weeks earlier. Alexandra hadn’t understood the situation, either, until he was gone and she had mounted the steps of the hotel to get a closer look. Now she was alone, more thoroughly than she had ever been in her twenty-­six years. In the middle of the city, in the middle of a history about which she had no real idea, among people who went purposefully up and down the steps of the hotel, she stood wondering whether to descend and try to get another taxi. She doubted she could afford the glass and cement monolith that loomed at her back, with its tinted windows, its crow-­like clients in dark suits hustling in and out or smoking on the steps. One thing seemed certain: she was in the wrong place.
Alexandra might have stood this way long minutes more, but suddenly the doors slid open just behind her and she turned to see three people coming out of the hotel. One of them was a white-­haired man in a wheelchair clutching several travel bags against his suit jacket.”


Elizabeth Kostova (New London, 26 december 1964)


De Britse schrijver, historicus, biograaf, criticus en vertaler Nigel Cliff werd geboren op 26 december 1969 in Manchester. Zie ook alle tags voor Nigel Cliff op dit blog.

Uit: Moscow Nights

“RILDIA BEE O’Bryan Cliburn’s proudest day was the day her son was born. She was thirty-seven and had been married to Harvey Lavan Clibum for eleven childless years. He was two years younger, a native of Mississippi whom she had met at an evening prayer meeting soon after breaking an engagement to a dentist. When she went to him one day in 1933 and said, “Sug, I think we’re going to have a little baby,” it seemed a miracle to them both. The following July 12 he came to her bedside at Tri-State Sanitarium in Shreveport, Louisiana— room 322, the number part of their personal liturgy—and smiled. “Babe,” he said in his laconic drawl, “we have a little boy, and this is our family.” The smiles dimmed when they differed over what to name the child—he wanted his son to have his name; she was not minded to raise a Junior—before harmony was restored with a compro-mise. The birth certificate duly recorded the debut of “Harvey Lavan (Van) Clibum,” but Rildia Bee made sure the child was never called anything but Van. Her second-proudest day was the day she met Sergei Rach-maninoff. It was two years earlier, and she was on a committee of musically minded ladies who had invited the Russian to Shreveport. The Clibums had moved to the city after her father, William Carey O’Bryan, who was mayor of McGregor, Texas, as well as a judge, state legislator, and newspaperman, convinced his son-in-law to make a career in oil. At the time, Harvey was a railroad station agent, but since his dream of being a doctor had been dashed in the Great War, and one thing was as good as an-other, he gamely signed up as a roving crude oil purchasing agent. Rildia Bee’s dream was to be a concert pianist, and she had indeed been on the brink of a career when her parents pulled her back from the unseemly business of performing in public. Since her mother, Sirrildia, had been a semiprofessional ac-tress—the only kind in those parts—that seemed a little unfair, but perhaps it was not, because Sirrildia refashioned herself into that primmest of creatures, a local historian, and the family was trying to put its stage days behind it. Rildia Bee dutifully de-moted herself to teaching piano, which was why she was on the Shreveport concert committee and came to tend personally to Rachmaninoff. Backstage at the big new Art Deco Municipal Auditorium, she had little to do except hand the famous Russian a glass of or-ange juice or water, and she never got to tell him that, pianisti-cally speaking, they were almost family. When she was a student at the Cincinnati conservatory, Rildia Bee had one day attended a recital by the famed pianist Arthur Friedheim, who despite his Germanic name was born to an aristocratic family in St. Peters-burg when it was the Imperial Russian capital. Mesmerized, she followed him to New York, where she became one of his best students at the Institute of Musical Art, a forerunner to the Mil-liard School. Friedheim had studied with the fiery Anton Rubinstein, the founder of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, before he balked at Rubinstein’s chaotic teaching style and defected to the superstar Hungarian Franz Liszt, becoming Liszt’s foremost pupil and, later, his secretary. Rachmaninoff counted Rubinstein as his greatest pianistic inspiration, and in his playing markedly resembled Friedheim, who had died less than a month earlier, leaving Rachmaninoff the greatest living exponent of the school of pianism that Rildia Bee adored.”


Nigel Cliff (Manchester, 26 december 1969)


De Amerikaanse schrijver Henry Miller werd geboren op 26 december 1891 In New York. Zie ook alle tags voor Henry Miller op dit blog.

Uit: The Colossus of Maroussi

“We awoke early and hired a car to take us to Epidaurus. The day began in sublime peace. It was my first real glimpse of the Peloponnesus. It was not a glimpse either, but a vista opening upon a hushed still world such as man will one day inherit when he ceases to indulge in murder and thievery. I wonder how it is that no painter has ever given us the magic of this idyllic landscape. Is it too undramatic, too idyllic? Is the light too ethereal to be captured by the brush? This I can say, and perhaps it will discourage the over-enthusiastic artist: there is no trace of ugliness here, either in line, color, form, feature or sentiment. It is sheer perfection, as in Mozart’s music. Indeed, I venture to say that there is more of Mozart here than anywhere else in the world. The road to Epidaurus is like the road to creation. One stops searching. One grows silent, stilled by the hush of mysterious beginnings. If one could speak one would become melodious. There is nothing to be seized or treasured or cornered off here: there is only a breaking down of the walls which lock the spirit in. The landscape does not recede, it installs itself in the open places of the heart; it crowds in, accumulates, dispossesses. You are no longer riding through something—call it Nature, if you will —but participating in a rout, a rout of the forces of greed, malevolence, envy, selfishness, spite, intolerance, pride, arrogance, cunning, duplicity and so on. It is the morning of the first day of the great peace, the peace of the heart, which comes with surrender. I never knew the meaning of peace until I arrived at Epidaurus. Like everybody I had used the word all my life, without once realizing that I was using a counterfeit. Peace is not the opposite of war any more than death is the opposite of life. The poverty of language, which is to say the poverty of man’s imagination or the poverty of his inner life, has created an ambivalence which is absolutely false. I am talking of course of the peace which passeth all understanding. There is no other kind. The peace which most of us know is merely a cessation of hostilities, a truce, an interregnum, a lull, a respite, which is negative. The peace of the heart is positive and invincible, demanding no conditions, requiring no protection. It just is. If it is a victory it is a peculiar one because it is based entirely on surrender, a voluntary surrender, to be sure. There is no mystery in my mind as to the nature of the cures which were wrought at this great therapeutic center of the ancient world. Here the healer himself was healed, first and most important step in the development of the art, which is not medical but religious. Second, the patient was healed before ever he received the cure. The great physicians have always spoken of Nature as being the great healer.”


Henry Miller (26 december 1891 – 7 juni 1980)
Hier aankomend op Schiphol in 1959


De Duitse dichter Rainer Malkowski werd geboren op 26 december 1939 in Berlijn-Tempelhof. Zie ook alle tags voor Rainer Malkowski op dit blog.


Die Gerechtigkeit des Meeres

Kein Element,
in dem man billig
Spuren hinterläßt.

Das bewegte Wasser
hinter dem Heck
bewahrt der glücklichen Fahrt
kein Gedächtnis.

Nur die Gescheiterten
noch ein paar Jahrhunderte
ihre Geschichten erzählen −
jedem, der sie hören will
und zu den zerbrochenen
hinabsteigt auf den mythischen


Im Jahr X

Hinter ihnen die Nacht.
Vor ihnen ein Raum,
bis an die Decke gefüllt
mit erfundenem Licht.
Sie halten die Scheibe besetzt
und rühren sich nicht.
Winzige, flugfähige Stifte.
Nur ihre Fühler sind in Bewegung −
von symmetrischer Anmut −,
während jetzt im Radio
das Zeitzeichen ertönt: im Jahr X
nach der Ursuppe.
Ein sprechendes Wesen
wird vorgestellt
und hält einen Vortrag
über den Tod
ferner Sterne.


Rainer Malkowski (26 december 1939 – 1 september 2003)


De Duitse schrijver Mani Beckmann (pseudoniem Tom Finnek) werd geboren op 26 december 1965 in Alstätte/Westfalen. Zie ook alle tags voor Mani Beckmann op dit blog.

Uit: Sodom und Gomera

„Das Taxi hielt, Micki zahlte die 2.500 Peseten (er tat dies wortlos), und Sandy forderte von mir die Hälfte des Fahrpreises, indem sie sagte: »Fifty-fi fty, ganz reell!« Als sie m einen fragenden Blick sah, fügte sie achselzuckend hinzu: »Wir sind zwei Parteien: du und wir. Also jeder die Hälfte.« Kopfschüttelnd gab ich ihr 1.500 Peseten und war etwas erstaunt, als sie sie einsteckte, ohne Anstalten zu machen, mir den Rest herauszugeben. Wieder sah sie mein Stirnrunzeln und meinte in vorwurfsvollem Ton: »Bisch du etwa ’n Pfennigfuchser?« Ich lächelte nachsichtig und verneinte ihre Frage. »Siehscht?«, fragte Sandy. »Da vorn isch auch schon die Fähre, wo nach San Sebaschtián fährt.« »San Sebastián?« »Des isch die Hauptstadt von Gomera. Und der Hafen. Das Valle isch auf der anderen Seite der Insel.« Auch während der gut einstündigen und erstaunlich schaukelfreien Schiff fahrt mit der »Ferry Gomera« gelang es mir nicht, den Redeschwall meiner neuen Bekannten zu bremsen oder auf eine andere Person (zum Beispiel ihren apathisch schweigenden Freund) zu lenken. Sie erzählte vermeintlich ulkige Anekdoten von vergangenen Urlaubstrips (sie reiste zum vierten Mal »ins Valle«), schwärmte von dem mojo bei Maria (eine Art Soße oder Dip, angeblich eine kulinarische Spezialität auf der Insel), dozierte über die »Guanchen«, die geheimnisumwitterten Ureinwohner der Kanaren, und berichtete von der so genannten Schweinebucht und den Freaks und Späthippies, die dort direkt am Wasser in Höhlen lebten, sich von Joints und freier Liebe ernährten und denen sich Sandy und Micki (selbstredend) auf der Stelle anschließen wollten.“


Mani Beckmann (Alstätte, 26 december 1965)


De Cubaanse schrijver, essayist en musicoloog Alejo Carpentier werd geboren in Havana op 26 december 1904. Zie ook alle tags voor Alejo Carpentier op dit blog.

Uit: The Kingdom of This World (Vertaald door Harriet de Onís)

“All of this became particularly evident to me during my stay in Haiti, where I found myself in daily contact with something we could call the marvelous real . I was treading earth where thousands of men, eager for liberty, believed in Mackandal’s lycanthropic powers, to the point that their collective faith produced a miracle on the day of his execution. I already knew the prodigious story of Bouckman, (21) the Jamaican initiate. I had been in the citadel of La Ferriere, a structure without architectonic precedents, portended only in Piranesi’s Imaginary Prisons. I had breathed the atmosphere created by Henri Christophe, a monarch of incredible undertakings, much more surprising than all the cruel kings invented by the surrealists, who were very fond of imaginary tyrannies, never having suffered through one.
I found the marvelous real with every step. But I also realized that the presence and vitality of the marvelous real was not a privilege unique to Haiti but the patrimony of all the Americas, where we have not yet established an inventory of our cosmogonies. The marvelous real is found at each step in the lives of the men who inscribed dates on the history of the Continent and who left behind names still borne by the living: from the seekers after the Fountain of Youth or the Golden City of Manoa to certain early rebels or modern heroes of our wars of independence, those of such mythological stature as Colonel Juana Azurduy. It has always seemed significant to me that as recently as 1780 some perfectly sane Spaniards from Angostura set out in search of El Dorado, and that, during the French Revolution– long live Reason and the Supreme Being!–Francisco Menendez, from Compostela, traversed Patagonia hunting for the Enchanted City of the Caesars. Looking at the matter in another way, we see that while in western Europe folk-dancing has lost all its magical evocative power, it is rare that a collective dance in the Americas does not embody a profound ritual meaning that creates around it an entire initiatory process: such are the santeria dances in Cuba or the prodigious African version of the Corpus feast, which may still be seen in the town of San Francisco de Yare in Venezuela.”


Alejo Carpentier (26 december 1904 – 24 april 1980)


Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 26e december ook mijn vorige twee blogs van vandaag.

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit: Theft By Finding

„December 28, 1984
Amy, Tiffany, and I sat in the kitchen and talked until three thirty this morning. One of the things we laughed about was an old episode of The Newlywed Game. The host asked the wives, “What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever made love?” He was likely expecting “the kitchen” or “on a tennis court at night,” but one woman didn’t quite understand the question and answered, “In the butt.”
David Sedaris: ‘There are things nobody wants to hear. But the disturbing things are great’

June 19, 1987
I ran into Walt on the L this morning. He owes me $450 and said he was just going to call me the other day because Gail, his wife, is always saying, “We need to pay that David Sedaris.”
I actually don’t hold anything against him. I miss Walt and Gail. Walt said that last week she got a profit-sharing check for $10,000. That was why he planned to call — to pay me. He said he took the check to the bank but lost it along the way. It was physically big, he told me. “I folded it in my top pocket, and wouldn’t you know!”
He called the bank to cancel it, then he called New York for a replacement check, but the woman whose job it would be to write it was on vacation. “Wouldn’t you know it!”
At around five, I took the L home. A woman near me had a three-year-old child on her lap, a girl, who looked at me and said, “Mommy, I hate that man.”
Hours later, walking up Leland, I heard someone running up behind me. It was a guy who lives in the halfway house next door. He is black and wore a long-sleeved shirt buttoned all the way to the neck. The man called me sir and asked how I was doing.
“All right,” I said.
He told me that he had a taste for a steak sandwich and asked me if I’d buy him one. You can’t pull money out of your pocket on Leland Avenue. It’s like ringing a bell, so I said no and he ran across the street to ask a woman the same question.
Later still I saw two men sitting in a car in front of the halfway house. They had the door open and were listening to the radio. As I passed, one of them asked me for a cigarette.
“I don’t smoke,” I told them. Then I thought of the guy who wanted a steak sandwich and of the little girl who hated me and thought, What the hell. I handed the guy in the car one of my cigarettes, and he scowled at me and said, “Fucking liar.”


David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit:When You Are Engulfed in Flames

“Carry my groceries upstairs.’ She sounded like a man, or, rather, a hit man, her voice coarse and low, like heavy footsteps on gravel.
‘Now?’ Hugh asked.
She said, ‘What? You got something better to do?’
I first saw the apartment a few days later. Hugh was in the living room taking down the panelling while I sat on a paint bucket and tried to come to terms with my disappointment. For starters, there was the kitchen floor. The tiles there were brown and tan and ochre, the colours seemingly crocheted as they would be on an afghan. Then there was the size. I was wondering how two people could possibly live in such a tight space, when there was a knock at the unlocked door, and this woman I didn’t know stepped uninvited onto the horrible tiles. Her hair was dyed the colour of a new penny, and she wore it pulled back into a thumb-sized ponytail. This put the focus on her taped-up glasses, and on her lower jaw, which stuck out slightly, like a drawer that hadn’t quite been closed. ‘Can I help you?’ I asked, and her hand went to a whistle that hung from a string around her neck.
‘Mess with me, and I’ll stick my foot so far up your ass I’ll lose my shoe.’
Someone says this, and you naturally look down, or at least I do. The woman’s feet were tiny, no longer than hot-dog buns. She had on puffy sneakers, cheap ones made of air and some sort of plastic, and, considering them, I frowned.
‘They might be small, but they’ll still do the job, don’t you worry,’ she said.
Right about then, Hugh stepped out of the living room with a scrap of panelling in his hand. ‘Have you met Helen?’ he asked.
The woman unfurled a few thick fingers, the way you might when working an equation: 2 young men + 1 bedroom – ugly panelling = fags. ‘Yeah, we met.’ Her voice was heavy with disdain. ‘We met, all right.’
Throughout the seven years Hugh and I lived on Thompson Street, our lives followed a simple pattern. He would get up early and leave the house no later than eight. I was working for a house-cleaning company, and though my schedule varied from day to day, I usually didn’t start until 10. My only real constant was Helen, who would watch Hugh leave the building, and then cross the hall to lean on our doorbell. I would wake up, and just as I was belting my robe, the ringing would be replaced by a pounding, frantic and relentless, the way you might rail against a coffin lid if you’d accidentally been buried alive.”

David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit: Me Talk Pretty One Day 

“No one else had been called, so why me? I ran down a list of recent crimes, looking for a conviction that might stick. Setting fire to a reportedly flameproof Halloween costume, stealing a set of barbecue tongs from an unguarded patio, altering the word on a list of rules posted on the gymnasium door; never did it occur to me that I might be innocent.
“You might want to take your books with you,” the teacher said. “And your jacket. You probably won’t be back before the bell rings.”
Though she seemed old at the time, the agent was most likely fresh out of college. She walked beside me and asked what appeared to be an innocent and unrelated question: “So, which do you like better, State or Carolina?”
She was referring to the athletic rivalry between the Triangle area’s two largest universities. Those who cared about such things tended to express their allegiance by wearing either Tar Heel powder blue, or Wolf Pack red, two colors that managed to look good on no one. The question of team preference was common in our part of North Carolina, and the answer supposedly spoke volumes about the kind of person you either were or hoped to become. I had no interest in football or basketball but had learned it was best to pretend otherwise. If a boy didn’t care for barbecued chicken or potato chips, people would accept it as a matter of personal taste, saying, “Oh well, I guess it takes all kinds.” You could turn up your nose at the president or Coke or even God, but there were names for boys who didn’t like sports. When the subject came up, I found it best to ask which team my questioner preferred. Then I’d say, “Really? Me, too!”
Asked by the agent which team I supported, I took my cue from her red turtleneck and told her that I was for State. “Definitely State. State all the way.”
It was an answer I would regret for years to come.
“State, did you say?” the agent asked.
“Yes, State. They’re the greatest.”

David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit: Holidays on Ice

“During the second interview we were asked when we wanted to be elves. This is always a problem question. I listened as the woman ahead of me, a former waitress, answered the question, saying, “I really want to be an elf? Because I think it’s about acting? And before this I worked in a restaurant? Which was run by this rally wonderful woman who had a dream to open a restaurant? And it made me realize that it’s really really … important to have a … dream?”
Everything this woman said, every phrase and sentence, was punctuated with a question mark and the interviewer never raised an eyebrow.
When it was my turn I explained that I wanted to be an elf because it was one of the most frightening career opportunities I had ever come across. The interviewer raised her face from my application and said, “And …?”
I’m certain that I failed my drug test. My urine had roaches and stem floating in it, but still they hired me because I am short, five feet five inches. Almost everyone they hired is short. One is a dwarf. After the second interview I was brought to the manager’s office, where I was shown a floor plan. On a busy day twenty-two thousand people come to visit Santa, and I was told that it is an elf’s not to remain merry in the face of torment and adversity. I promised to keep that in mind.
I spent my eight-hour day with fifty elves and one perky, well-meaning instructor in an enormous Macy’s classroom, the walls of which were lined with NCR 2152’s. A 2152, I have come to understand, is a cash register. The class was broken up into study groups and given assignments. My group included several returning elves and a few experienced cashiers who tried helping me by saying things like, “Don’t you even know your personal ID code? Jesus, I had mine memorized by ten o’clock.”

David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

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David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit: Holidays on Ice

„In a parade, maybe, but not on the streets. I figure that at least as an elf I will have a place; I’ll be in Santa’s Village with all the other elves. We will reside in a fluffy wonderland surrounded by candy canes and gingerbread shacks. It won’t be quite as sad as standing on some street corner dressed as a french fry.
I am trying to look on the bright side. I arrived in New York three weeks ago with high hopes, hopes that have been challenged. In my imagination I’d go straight from Penn Station to the offices of “One Life to Live,” where I would drop off my bags and spruce up before heading off for drinks with Cord Roberts and Victoria Buchannon, the show’s greatest stars. We’d sit in a plush booth at a tony cocktail lounge where my new celebrity friends would lift their frosty glasses in my direction and say, “A toast to David Sedaris, the best writer this show has ever had!!!”
I’d say, “You guys, cut it out.” It was my plan to act modest.
People at surrounding tables would stare at us, whispering, “Isn’t that … ? Isn’t that … ?”
I might be distracted by their enthusiasm and Victoria Buchannon would lay her hand over mineand tell me that I’d better get used to being the center of attention.
But instead I am applying for a job as an elf. Even worse than applying is the very real possibility that I will not be hired, that I couldn’t even find work as an elf. That’s when you know you’re a failure.
This afternoon I sat in the eighth-floor SantaLand office and was told, “Congratulations, Mr. Sedaris. You are an elf.
In order to become an elf I filled out ten pages’ worth of forms, took a multiple choice personality test, underwent two interviews, and submitted urine for a drug test. The first interview was general, designed to eliminate the obvious sociopaths.“

David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.


Uit:When You Are Engulfed in Flames

“Beside our apartment building in New York, there was a narrow gangway, and every evening, just after dark, rats would emerge from it and flock to the trash cans lining the curb. The first time I saw them, I started and screamed, but after that I made it a point to walk on the other side of the street, pausing and squinting to take them all in. It was like moving to Alaska and seeing a congregation of bears – I knew to expect them, but still I could never quite believe my eyes. Every now and then, one of them would get flattened by a cab, and I’d bend over the body, captivated by the foulness of it. Twenty, maybe 30 seconds of reverie, and then the spell would be broken, sometimes by the traffic, but more often by my neighbour Helen, who’d shout at me from her window.

Like the rats that spilt from the gangway, she was exactly the type of creature I’d expected to find living in New York. Arrogant, pushy, proudly, almost fascistically opinionated, she was the person you found yourself quoting at dinner parties, especially if your hosts were on the delicate side and you didn’t much care about being invited back. Helen on politics, Helen on sex, Helen on race relations: the response at the table was almost always the same. ‘Oh, that’s horrible. And where did you know this person from?’

It was Hugh who first met her. This was in New York, on Thompson Street, in the fall of 1991. There was a combination butcher shop and café there, and he mentioned to the owner that he was looking to rent an apartment. While talking, he noticed a woman standing near the door, 70 at least, and no taller than a 10-year-old girl. She wore a sweat-suit, tight through the stomach and hips. It wasn’t the pastel-coloured, ladylike kind, but just plain grey, like a boxer’s. Her glasses were wing-shaped, and at their centre, just over her nose, was a thick padding of duct tape. Helen, she said her name was. Hugh nodded hello, and as he turned to leave, she pointed to some bags lying at her feet.”


David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook mijn blog van 26 december 2009 en ook mijn blog van 26 december 2010.


Uit: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

“When my family first moved to North Carolina, we lived in a rented house three blocks from the school where I would begin the third grade. My mother made friends with one of the neighbors, but one seemed enough for her. Within a year we would move again and, as she explained, there wasn’t much point in getting too close to people we would have to say good-bye to. Our next house was less than a mile away, and the short journey would hardly merit tears or even good-byes, for that matter. It was more of a “see you later” situation, but still I adopted my mother’s attitude, as it allowed me to pretend that not making friends was a conscious choice. I could if I wanted to. It just wasn’t the right time.
Back in New York State, we had lived in the country, with no sidewalks or streetlights; you could leave the house and still be alone. But here, when you looked out the window, you saw other houses, and people inside those houses. I hoped that in walking around after dark I might witness a murder, but for the most part our neighbors just sat in their living rooms, watching TV. The only place that seemed truly different was owned by a man named Mr. Tomkey, who did not believe in television. This was told to us by our mother’s friend, who dropped by one afternoon with a basketful of okra. The woman did not editorialize—rather, she just presented her information, leaving her listener to make of it what she might. Had my mother said, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” I assume that the friend would have agreed, and had she said, “Three cheers for Mr. Tomkey,” the friend likely would have agreed as well. It was a kind of test, as was the okra.”


David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook mijn blog van 26 december 2009.


Uit: Me Talk Pretty One Day 


„Anyone who watches even the slightest amount of TV is familiar with the scene: An agent knocks on the door of some seemingly ordinary home or office. The door opens, and the person holding the knob is asked to identify himself. The agent then says, “I’m going to ask you to come with me.”
They’re always remarkably calm, these agents. If asked “Why do I need to go anywhere with you?” they’ll straighten their shirt cuffs or idly brush stray hairs from the sleeves of their sport coats and say, “Oh, I think we both know why.”
The suspect then chooses between doing things the hard way and doing things the easy way, and the scene ends with either gunfire or the gentlemanly application of handcuffs. Occasionally it’s a case of mistaken identity, but most often the suspect knows exactly why he’s being taken. It seems he’s been expecting this to happen. The anticipation has ruled his life, and now, finally, the wait is over. You’re sometimes led to believe that this person is actually relieved, but I’ve never bought it. Though it probably has its moments, the average day spent in hiding is bound to beat the average day spent in prison. When it comes time to decide who gets the bottom bunk, I think anyone would agree that there’s a lot to be said for doing things the hard way.
The agent came for me during a geography lesson. She entered the room and nodded at my fifth-grade teacher, who stood frowning at a map of Europe. What would needle me later was the realization that this had all been prearranged. My capture had been scheduled to go down at exactly 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon. The agent would be wearing a dung-colored blazer over a red knit turtleneck, her heels sensibly low in case the suspect should attempt a quick getaway.
“David,” the teacher said, “this is Miss Samson, and she’d like you to go with her now.”



David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)


Lees verder “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski”

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Hans Brinkmann, Alejo Carpentier, Jean Toomer, Willy Corsari

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956 en groeide op in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hij stopte met Kent State University in 1977, tien jaar later studeerde hij af aan de Art Institute of Chicago. Rond zijn twintigste probeerde hij de beeldende kunst en wat performance art. Het gebrek aan succes daarin beschreef hij in veel van zijn essays. Veel van zijn humor is autobiografisch en zelfspottend over zijn grote familie, Griekse afkomst, vele baantjes en zijn leven in Frankrijk met zijn partner Hugh Hamrick.


Uit: Holidays on Ice


„I was in a coffee shop looking through the want ads when I read, “Macy’s Herald Square, the largest store in the world, has big opportunities for outgoing, fun-loving people of all shapes and sizes who want more than just a holiday job! Working as an elf in Macy’s SantaLand means being at the center of the excitement….”

I circled the as and then I laughed out loud at the thought of it. The man seated next to me turned on his stool, checking to see if I was a lunatic. I continued to laugh, quietly. Yesterday I applied for a job at UPS. They are hiring drivers’ helpers for the upcoming Christmas season and I went to their headquarters filled with hope. In line with three hundred other men and women my hope diminished. During the brief interview I was asked why I wanted to work for UPS and I answered that I wanted to work for UPS because I like the brown uniforms. What did they expect me to say?

“I’d like to work for UPS because, in my opinion, it’s an opportunity to showcase my substantial leadership skills in one of the finest private delivery companies this country has seen since the Pony Express!”

I said I liked the uniforms and the UPS interviewer turned my application facedown on his desk and said, “Give me a break.”

I came home this afternoon and checked the machine for a message from UPS but the only message I got was from the company that holds my student loan, Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae sounds like a naive and barefoot hillbilly girl but in fact they are a ruthless and aggressive conglomeration of bullies located in a tall brick building somewhere in Kansas. I picture it to be the tallest building in that state and I have decided they hire their employees straight out of prison. It scares me.

The woman at Macy’s asked, “Would you be interested in full-time elf or evening and weekend elf?”

I said, “Full-time elf.”

I have an appointment next Wednesday at noon.

I am a thirty-three-year-old man applying for a job as an elf.

I often see people on the streets dressed as objects and handing out leaflets. I tend to avoid leaflets but it breaks my heart to see a grown man dressed as a taco. So, if there is a costume involved, I tend not only to accept the leaflet, but to accept it graciously, saying, “Thank you so much,” and thinking, You poor, pathetic son of a bitch. I don’t know what you have but I hope I never catch it. This afternoon on Lexington Avenue I accepted a leaflet from a man dressed as a camcorder. Hot dogs, peanuts, tacos, video cameras, these things make me sad because they don’t fit in on the streets. In a parade, maybe, but not on the streets.“



David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)


De Amerikaanse schrijfster Elizabeth Kostova werd geboren op 26 december 1964 in New London, Connecticut. Zij woonde als kind een tijdje met haar ouders in Slovenië. In die periode brachten ze een bezoek aan Amsterdam waar haar vader haar volksverhalen uit de Balkan begon te vertellen. Uit dat bezoek en die verhalen putte ze de inspiratie voor deze roman. Als student reisde Kostova naar Bulgarije om onderzoek te doen naar orale tradities. Die invloed, het vertellen van verhalen, vind je terug in haar boek The Historian.


Uit: The Historian


„In 1972 I was sixteen? young, my father said, to be traveling with him on his diplomatic missions. He preferred to know that I was sitting attentively in class at the International School of Amsterdam; in those days his foundation was based in Amsterdam, and it had been my home for so long that I had nearly forgotten our early life in the United States. It seems peculiar to me now that I should have been so obedient well into my teens, while the rest of my generation was experimenting with drugs and protesting the imperialist war in Vietnam, but I had been raised in a world so sheltered that it makes my adult life in academia look positively adventurous. To begin with, I was motherless, and the care that my father took of me had been deepened by a double sense of responsibility, so that he protected me more completely than he might have otherwise. My mother had died when I was a baby, before my father founded the Center for Peace and Democracy. My father never spoke of her and turned quietly away if I asked questions; I understood very young that this was a topic too painful for him to discuss. Instead, he took excellent care of me himself and provided me with a series of governesses and housekeepers?money was not an object with him where my upbringing was concerned, although we lived simply enough from day to day. The latest of these housekeepers was Mrs. Clay, who took care of our narrow seventeenth-century town house on the Raamgracht, a canal in the heart of the old city. Mrs. Clay let me in after school every day and was a surrogate parent when my father traveled, which was often. She was English, older than my mother would have been, skilled with a feather duster and clumsy with teenagers; sometimes, looking at her too-compassionate, long-toothed face over the dining table, I felt she must be thinking of my mother and I hated her for it. When my father was away, the handsome house echoed. No one could help me with my algebra, no one admired my new coat or told me to come here and give him a hug, or expressed shock over how tall I had grown.“



Elizabeth Kostova (New London, 26 december 1964)


De Amerikaanse schrijver Henry Miller werd geboren op 26 december 1891 In New York. Zie ook mijn blog van 26 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 26 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 26 december 2008.


Uit: Tropic Of Capricorn


I learned, by bitter experience, to hold my tongue; I learned to sit in silence, and even smile, when actually I was foaming at the mouth. I learned to shake hands and say how do you do to all these innocent-looking fiends who were only waiting for me to sit down in order to suck my blood.
How was it possible, when I sat down in the parlour at my prehistoric desk, to use this code language of rape and murder? I was alone in this great hemisphere of violence, but I was not alone as far as the human race was concerned. I was lonely amidst a world of things lit up by phosphorescent flas
hes of cruelty. I was delirious with an energy which could not be unleashed except in the service of death and futility. I could not begin with a full statement – it would have meant the strait-jacket or the electric chair. I was like a man who had been too long incarcerated in a dungeon – I had to feel my way slowly, falteringly, lest I stumble and be run over. I had to accustom myself gradually to the penalties which freedom involves. I had to grow a new epidermis which would protect me from this burning light in the sky.
The ovarian world is the product of a life rhythm. The moment a child is born it becomes part of a world in which there is not only the life rhythm but the death rhythm. The frantic desire to live, to live at any cost, is not a result of the life rhythm in us, but of the death rhythm. There is not only no need to keep alive at any price, but, if life is undesirable, it is absolutely wrong. This keeping oneself alive, out of a blind urge to defeat death, is in itself a means of sowing death. Every one who has not fully accepted life, who is not incrementing life, is helping to fill the world with death. To make the simplest gesture with the hand can convey the utmost sense of life; a word spoken with the whole being can give life. Activity in itself means nothing: it is often a sign of death. By simple external pressure, by force of surroundings and example, by the very climate which activity engenders, one can become part of a monstrous death machine, such as America, for example. What does a dynamo know of life, of peace, of reality? What does any individual American dynamo know of the wisdom and energy, of the life abundant and eternal possessed by a ragged beggar sitting under a tree in the act of meditation? What is energy? What is life? One has only to read the stupid twaddle of the scientific and philosophic textbooks to realize how less than nothing is the wisdom of these energetic Americans. Listen, they had me on the run, these crazy horsepower fiends; in order to break their insane rhythm, their death rhythm, I had to resort to a wavelength which, until I found the proper sustenance in my own bowels, would at least nullify the rhythm they had set up.”



Henry Miller (26 december 1891 – 7 juni 1980)


De Duitse dichter Rainer Malkowski werd geboren op 26 december 1939 in Berlijn-Tempelhof. Zie ook mijn blog van 26 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 26 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 26 december 2008.




In der Kindheit eine Einmischung.

Fast immer zeigten sie das Ende

von etwas an, selten einen Beginn.

Als ich die erste eigene Uhr bekam,

war ich einen Tag lang stolz.

Dann trug ist sie nicht mehr.

So wehrte ich mich instinktiv

gegen die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies.

Später hielt ich mir viel zugute

auf meine Pünktlichkeit.

Am Handgelenk tickte ein Instrument,

mit dem ich meine Selbstachtung kontrollierte

und den Respekt vor andern.

Auch über Glück und Unglück

entschieden manchmal Minuten.

Aber immer lebte ich in Räumen

ohne hörbaren Stundenschlag.

Ich mied die getäfelten Stuben,

Liebhaber – Museen mit verglasten,

hochkant stehenden Särgen,

in denen ein Perpendikel schwang.

Leichter war mir im Freien.

Die an die Türme geheftete Zeit – beinahe

schon wieder zum Lachen.

Als mein Vater sehr krank war,

schenkte er mir seine Uhr.

Ich dachte: wenn ich sie jeden Tage aufziehe,

wird er nicht sterben.

Und hatte dann doch zu wenig Vertrauen

zu meiner Unvernunft.




Wie genau wir das Herz malen:
zwei zusammengewachsene Flügel.

Ohnmächtiges Flattern
bei jedem Aufruhr
in den Körperprovinzen.

Morphin –
und das ruhige,
weiträumige Kreisen
hoch im Blauen.



Rainer Malkowski (26 december 1939 – 1 september 2003)


De Duitse schrijver Mani Beckmann werd geboren op 26 december 1965 in Alstätte/Westfalen. Zie ook mijn blog van 26 december 2008.


Uit: Sodom und Gomera


‚Das Flugzeug landete mit einer halben Stunde Verspätung um kurz vor drei Uhr nachmittags auf dem Flughafen Reina Sofia. Noch vor sechs Stunden hatte ich bei elf Grad fröstelnd im Berliner Regen gestanden und auf mein Taxi gewartet, das mich zum Flughafen Tegel bringen sollte, und nun empfing mich strahlender Sonnenschein und eine brütende Hitze auf der Kanareninsel Teneriffa.

»Auf das Wetter ist da unten immer Verlass«, hatte Ute mir versprochen und wie immer recht behalten. »Das Schlimmste, was dir passieren kann, ist der Schirokko. Aber der kommt selten.«

»Aha«, hatte ich geantwortet und nicht recht gewusst, wovon sie sprach.

Ich stand in der Abfertigungshalle und sammelte mein Gepäck ein (wie nicht anders zu erwarten, war es das letzte, das auf dem Förderband erschien). Ich verstaute Jeansjacke und Pullover im Rucksack, setzte meine Sonnenbrille auf, stellte die Armbanduhr um eine Stunde zurück und begann allmählich zu begreifen, dass soeben mein erster längerer Urlaub seit Jahren begonnen hatte. Erst am Vortag hatte ich ein Last-Minute-Pauschalticket erstanden, und noch vor drei Tagen hatte ich nicht die leiseste Ahnung gehabt, dass ich mich an diesem Dienstagnachmittag in der Nähe des 28. Breitengrades auf einer Insel im Atlantischen Ozean befi nden würde. Eigentlich sind spontane Entscheidungen nicht gerade meine Stärke, aber diesmal ging alles ganz plötzlich und erfolgte ohne lange Planung.

Es begann damit, dass Wuttke, mein Redakteur beim »Berliner Abendblatt«, mir bei einer Kulturpreisverleihung am Samstag zu verstehen gab, es sähe in der nächsten Zeit ungünstig mit Aufträgen aus. Er wisse, dass man es als Freiberufl er nicht einfach habe, und es tue ihm ja auch leid, aber so sei es halt im Journalismus. Nicht dass er mit meinen Texten unzufrieden sei, das nun gerade nicht, aber ob ich denn nicht schon einmal überlegt hätte, das Feuilleton aufzugeben und, sagen wir mal, in die Lokalberichterstattung zu wechseln. Im lokalen Sport würden zum Beispiel immer mal wieder patente Leute gebraucht. Eine verbale Ohrfeige durch die Blume!

»Das ist das Sommerloch, da sieht es immer ein wenig mau aus.« Wuttke lächelte unecht. Von wegen Sommerloch! Es war September!“



Mani Beckmann (Alstätte, 26 december 1965)


De Duitse dichter, schrijver en criticus Hans Brinkmann werd geboren op 26 december 1956 in Freiberg in Sachsen. Hij studeerde museumkunde in Leipzig en werkte vervolgens in Schloss Hinterglauchau en later in de stad- en streekbibliotheek in Karl-Marx-Stadt. Hij publiceert sinds 1976.


Uit: Milchmädchen Rechne Dich!


Blutbild einer Fledermaus


Ich habe mir einen Pfahl ins Herz getrieben, bin aber Dracula geblieben. Ich kann das Holz, will ich Blut lecken, rausziehen und dann wieder reinstecken. Alles eine Frage der Disziplin, ein Mann hat sich im Griff oder es hat ihn. Wenn ich mein Herzloch verstöpselt habe, bin ich gemütlich als wie ein Schwabe. Ich esse gute Hausmannskost: Kartoffeln. Sauerkraut, Würstel vom Rost. Ich trinke Tomatensaft, Möhrensaft, Kirsch und manchmal diesen Schnaps mit dem Hirsch. Man sieht, es muss für mich nicht einmal rot sein, das Fleisch auf dem Teller sollte aber tot sein. Hingegen, wenn ich den Pflock rausreiße, kann es schon vorkommen, dass ich beiße. Deshalb bitte ich Abstand zu halten, ihr könnt euch den Moment lang auch woanders entfalten. Schließlich bin ich im Dienst beim Schlürfen, ich mache das für Geld, darf das also dürfen. Ich prüfe im Auftrag der Politik das Blut, wie deutsch, wie süß, wie dick und wie dunkel, ich halte das fest, ist mein Job. Was dann damit wird, mach ich mir keinen Kopp. Ich ahne es freilich, ich bin ja Elite, ein Fachmann von Adel auf meinem Gebiete. Daten werden bundesweit wöchentlich erhoben und – beileibe nicht nur die Ergebnisse meiner Proben werden – erfasst, auch die Rotz- und Wasserbestände; das geht aber alles nicht mehr durch meine Hände. Zweck des Ganzen, soweit ich’ s beurteilen kann, ist die Erforschung der Körperflüssigkeiten, um ihre Nutzung vorzubereiten. Seit nämlich Arbeit kaum noch Gewinn verspricht, sucht die Weltordnung neu nach Gesicht und Gewicht. Nur soviel: Verzicht allein bringt es nicht, wenn’ s der Ökonomie an Profit gebricht.



Hans Brinkmann (Freiberg, 26 december 1956)


De Cubaanse schrijver, essayist en musicoloog Alejo Carpentier werd geboren in Havana op 26 december 1904. Carpentier was de zoon van een Russische taallerares en een Franse architect. Op twaalfjarige leeftijd verhuisde hij met zijn familie naar Parijs, waar hij muziektheorie begon te studeren. Bij zijn terugkomst in Cuba, studeerde hij architectuur, een studie die hij nooit af zou maken. Hij begon te werken als journalist en werkte mee met de linkse bewegingen. Hiervoor werd hij een tijd gevangengezet en wanneer hij uit de gevangenis kwam, ging hij in ballingschap naar Frankrijk. Daar werd hij voorgesteld aan de surrealisten, zoals André Breton, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Jacques Prévert en Antonin Artaud. Tijdens zijn verblijf in Frankrijk bezocht hij vele malen Spanje, waar hij de schoonheid van de barok ontdekte die hem vanaf dan zou fascineren. Zijn bekendste werken zijn Ecue-yamba-o!”Alabado sea el Señor” (1933), over de afrocubaanse mythologie en folklore, El reino de este mundo (1949), en Los pasos perdidos (1953). Het was in de proloog van El reino de este mundo, een roman over de Haïtiaanse revolutie, dat hij zijn visie over het “magische realisme” uiteenzette. Van 1945 tot 1959 leefde hij in Venezuela. Na de Cubaanse Revolutie keerde hij terug naar zijn vaderland in 1959, waar hij werkte als directeuur van de Nationale Drukerij en in de Cubaanse ambassade in Frankrijk.


Uit: Journey Back to the Source (Vertaald door Frances Partridge)


“Then the old Negro, who had not stirred, began making strange movements with his stick, whirling it around above a graveyard of paving stones. The white and black marble squares flew to the floors and covered them. Stones leaped up and unerringly filled the gaps in the walls. The nailstudded walnut doors fitted themselves into their frames, while the screws rapidly twisted back into the holes in the hinges. In the dead flower beds, the fragments of tile were lifted by the thrust of growing flowers and joined together, raising a sonorous whirlwind of clay, to fall like rain on the framework of the roof. The house grew, once more assuming its normal proportions, modestly clothed. Ceres became less gray. There were more fish in the fountain. And the gurgling wa
ter summoned forgotten begonias back to life. The old man inserted a key into the lock of the front door and began to open the windows. His heels made a hollow sound. When he lighted the lamps, a yellow tremor ran over the oil paint of the family portraits, and people dressed in black talked softly in all the corridors, to the rhythm of spoons stirring cups of chocolate. Don Marcial, Marqués de Capellanías, lay on his death-bed, his breast blazing with decorations, while four tapers with long beards of melted wax kept guard over him.”



Alejo Carpentier (26 december 1904 – 24 april 1980)


De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Jean Toomer werd geboren op 26 december 1894 in Washington, D.C. Hoewel hij gedurende een periode van zijn leven voor blanke doorging groeide hij op in een zwarte gemeenschap.  Hij studeerde aan de University of Wisconsin en aan het College of the City of New York. Na zijn studie begon hij te schrijven. In 1921 werd hij leraar in Georgia, het was een reis naar zijn wortels. Vanuit zijn ervaringen in die tijd schreef hij de bundel Cane. Toomer was een prominent vertegenwoordiger van de Harlem renaissance.


Song of the Son 


Pour O pour that parting soul in song

O pour it in the sawdust glow of night

Into the velvet pine-smoke air tonight,

And let the valley carry it along.

And let the valley carry it along.

O land and soil, red soil and sweet-gum tree,

So scant of grass, so proligate of pines,

Now hust before an epoch’s sun declines

Thy son, in time, I have returned to thee,

Thy son, I have in time returned to thee.

In time, for though the sun is setting on

A song-lit race of slaves, it has not set;

Though late, O soil, it is not too late yet

To catch thy plaintive soul, leaving, soon gone,

Leaving, to catch thy plaintive soul soon gone.

O Negro slaves, dark purple ripened plums,

Squeezed, and bursting in the pine-wood air,

Passing, before they stripped the old tree bare

One plum was saved for me, one seed becomes

an everlasting song, a singing tree,

Caroling softly souls of slavery,

What they were, and what they are to me,

Caroling softly souls of slavery.



Jean Toomer (26 december 1894 – 30 maart 1967)
Portret door Weinold Reiss


De Nederlandse schrijfster Willy Corsari (pseudoniem van Wilhelmina Angela Douwes-Schmidt) werd geboren in Sint-Pieters-Jette, Brussel, op 26 december 1897. Zij studeerde aan de Toneelschool van Amsterdam, deed mee aan het cabaret aldaar en trad op met grote namen als Jean-Louis Pisuisse en Louis Davids. Deze ervaringen beschreef zij in haar Liedjes en herinneringen. Daarna werd haar schrijverstalent ontdekt, waardoor zij verder ging als populair auteur die een breed publiek wist te bereiken. Haar eerste publicaties verschenen vanaf 1916 in tijdschriften; in 1927 kwam haar eerste boek uit. Haar grootste populariteit bereikte zij in de jaren vijftig. Een aantal van haar boeken is vertaald. Zelf vertaalde ze ook werk van anderen, zoals van Louis Bromfield en Albert Camus.

Willy Corsari was enkele malen gehuwd, en had een verhouding met (onder anderen) Jan Campert. Zij bereikte de respectabele leeftijd van 100 jaar. Haar werk omvat  meisjesboeken, romans, detectives (rond inspecteur Lund), korte verhalen, toneelstukken en liedjes.


Liedje in de schemering


Mijn man zingt een oud liefdesliedje

In de schemering na het diner

Mijn vriendin leunt tegen de vleugel

En zingt zachtjes met hem mee

En ik zit in een hoekje gedoken

Mijn hart is zo zwaar van verdriet

Hun stemmen klinken zo aardig saam

’t Is al een heel oud liedje

Veel lange jaren geleden

Toen heb ik dat nog eens gehoord

Toen heeft het mijn hart gestolen

En m’n meisjesrust verstoord

Hij was ook zo knap en innemend

Hij zong, ’t was op een soiree

Ik leunde tegen de vleugel aan

En zong zachtjes met hem mee

Toen kruisten zijn blikken de mijne

En hij zag me zo smekend aan

Dat ik werelden van zaligheid

Voor me open voelde gaan

En al wat een vrouw heeft te geven

Dat gaf ik aan hem maar alleen

Maar sedert die avond vervlogen er

Zo heel vele jaren heen

En ik heb in die jaren ervaren

Dat de liefde gaat snel voorbij

Waarom zingt hij het liedje nu

Dat hij eenmaal zong voor mij

Wat zit je daar, er wordt gesproken

Mijn vriendin lachte luid, te luid

Het licht vlamt op en de schemer is heen

En het liedje is uit, is uit…



Willy Corsari (26 december 1897 – 11 mei 1998)


Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 26e december ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.