1. Aaron Grunberg of the Words Without Borders blog profiles a modern Russian writer I don’t hear enough about, Isaak Babel (I thought we were calling him Isaac, but I’ll go with the flow). A writing teacher turned me on to this 20th Century descendant of Gogol, Chekhov and, of course, the big guy. My favorite Babel short story is Odessa, a minimalist spin about a young hustler on the town with the gangsters and the businessmen and the ladies in pearls.
2. Today is the 100th birthday of playwright Samuel Beckett, and yesterday was the 90th birthday of Beverly Cleary. Hmm … Samuel Beckett, Beverly Cleary … I wonder which has influenced me more as a writer and a person? Close, but … got it.
3. Writer/podcaster Ed Champion endured ridiculous and humiliating treatment by the San Francisco Police Department late last night. The reason? None (appropriate on Beckett’s birthday). Ed’s considering filing a complaint, but I think he’s already filed his complaint with these well-written postings.