December has the centenary anniversary of two of my favorite authors – Shirley Jackson and Penelope Fitzgerald. Have you read The Lottery or The Blue Flower? If you have not, consider celebrating with a few of these authors’ good stories.
A few years back I was so excited to hear a local book club had invited the author of The Lottery to speak; imagine how disappointed I was to discover it was a local author with a fictionalized memoir of buying a winning ticket in the sweepstakes. Sadly, many in the audience had not read or heard of the famous author of horror and fantasy, Shirley Jackson. When I read Jackson’s short story The Lottery as a young girl, her eerie Gothic world fascinated me, and I soon went on to read The Haunting of Hill House. Her practice of writing one thousand words a day – more ambitious than Virginia Woolf’s goal of two hundred fifty – cemented her place in my list of writers to model. December 14 is her 100th birthday.
Discovering Penelope Fitzgerald’s short novels accidentally opened a quiet escape for me. I have her Man Booker Prize winning novel, Offshore, on my to-read list, but my two favorites of her writing are The Blue Flower and The Bookshop. In her obituary for The Guardian, Harriet Harvey-Wood wrote of her: “Throughout Fitzgerald’s novels, there are certain recurring themes, the most striking of which is the single-minded and blinkered innocent (usually male), whose tunnel vision causes disaster to those around. There is an example in almost every book, the most satisfying perhaps being Fritz von Hardenberg, Novalis in The Blue Flower.” Perhaps because she found her voice later in life (writing The Blue Flower when she was 78), Fitzgerald represents an author to emulate. December 17 is her 100th birthday.
Today, a friend told me William Trevor died, and I looked for his obituary in the New York Times. Although his birthday is in May, he deserves recognition. I discovered Trevor when I read he was a favorite author of the revered British actress Maggie Smith, and I enjoyed his lyrical Irish flavor in The Story of Lucy Gault. Have you read it?