I consider myself a writer, having toiled at a sports magazine in Boston in the 1970’s, turned out a newspaper column in the 1980’s, and producing a minimum of 40% of the editorial in Boating Times Long Island. But you may have noticed I wrote “writer” and not “Writer” because to me there’s a world of difference between the words I put on a page and the expressions of Writers whose words leap off the page, drawing you into a world, or an era, or a situation, or a social class; Writers whose arrangements of language tug at your heart strings and Writers whose manipulations of vocabulary pluck your heart from your chest, agitate it for all it is worth, and then liberate it, everlastingly altered.
I have great esteem for many Writers but there are few that have entranced me more than Hortense Calisher, who has died. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/arts/15calisher.html Her memoir Tattoo For A Slave and her novel Sunday Jews were my first introductions to Ms. Calisher’s work, but then I had a feast reading works she had written since the 1950s. Not one to spare a word in a description (she has been called an “anti-realist” but I always called her the polar opposite of Hemingway), I found almost every word imperative as she created pictures of her characters and illustrated the nuances and failings of their social classes. Hortense Calisher was reported to say she wrote as if her life depended upon it, because it did. Others whose lives are reliant on devouring the works of talented Writers as a form of sustenance are slightly hungrier today.
Have a great weekend! Thanks for all the private e-mails from those who heard me yesterday on the Joan Hamburg WOR radio show http://www.wor710.com/Joan-Hamburg/39665 discussing how many mortgage borrowers got into their present pickles. I adore Joan, and feel like she is an infinitely wiser radio “sister”. Her listeners never fail to learn, never fail to be challenged, and never fail to be entertained. And for those of you who inquired about how my birthday plans turned out, they were great, thanks! The Rangers won, I got to see my daughter mid-week, and I met someone I vociferously booed for years, who could not have been any nicer.