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It's no secret that talent runs in families. Years ago I worked with Anthony Morley on the Minneapolis Tribune. Tony was a brilliant writer, working on the editorial page and known for his charming and whimsical essays about talking to his neighbors at the bus stop where he waited for a ride to work. One day he let drop that his uncle was Christopher Morley...Christopher Morley (1890-1957). That's the big time. Morley was a well-known aphorist who had a talent for coming up with great lines like, "There was so much handwriting on the wall that even the wall fell down.
Novelist Toni Morrison has won the National Book Critics Circle, the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for her fiction. Little wonder. Her newest novel, "Home" (Alfred Knopf, $24.95) shows her at her best as a storyteller and one of the foremost interpreters of the negro experience in America.
Dorothy Parker was born on this day 119 years ago in West End, N.J., just a year after poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, about which Parker said "I was following in the exquisite footsteps of Miss Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers." That sounds a good deal like the acerbic and disenchanted Mrs. Parker, a leader in that circle called the Algonquin Round Table. In 1963, she commented that, at 70, "If I had any decency, I'd be dead.
Thomas De Quincy was born on this day in 1785, and would later write an eerie book that captured the romantic imagination, "Confessions of an Opium Eater." At about the same time, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was ingesting huge quantities of laudanum, liquid opium. One day he was as high as a kite and busy writing his immortal poem, "Kublai Khan." He answered a knock on the door.
I was in high school when Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche was making big news on Big Ten gridirons. The University of Wisconsin sent films of the games to every little high school football team that wanted them.
I'm not a big fan of detective novels in general, but I'm a sucker for the works of Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse ever since I bought a 25-cent paperback of the latter's hilarious novel, "Psmith" when I was a kid. Later, I was introduced to detectives like Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, the elegant aristocrat detective who stars in "Murder Must Advertise" and other wonderful novels that I call British drawing-room mysteries. Now I've found a "new" writer in M.C.
Normally I write about two books each week -- one national and one regional. This week I'll mention just one because it straddles both categories and because its author, a Minnesotan, belongs in the ranks of the "nationals," taking his place with authors like William Stafford and X.J. Kennedy. "The Reindeer Camps," by Barton Sutter (BOA Editions, $16) is a breath of fresh air in the poetry world. Sutter, Duluth's famous and first Poet Laureate, is in some ways a traditionalist.
Mark Kurlansky astounded the reading world several years ago when he wrote "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World." Later he did the same thing with "Salt: A World History." Now he's out with another food book -- or, more specifically a book about a man who tinkered with food and gave his name to an iconic product. When I was a kid, I thought Birdseye was a brand name. Like Green Giant. Or Spam. Then I read in my hometown weekly that the banker's wife had a visitor from out east, an old classmate.
Oh, shucks, thought I. Sara Rath has given up on non-fiction and has taken to penning novels when I received the Spring Green author's "The Waters of Star Lake," by Sara Rath (Terrace Books, $26.95). I remembered one of her earlier books, "About Cows," followed by "The Complete Cow," two wonderful coffee table books about those cud-chewing bovines. Later, she wrote a fine book about H.H.
In one sense, baseball is a game of numbers, numbers involving runs batted in, earned run averages, singles, two-baggers, homers, attendance.