Archives for posts with tag: author birthdays


Novelists…our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.” KURT VONNEGUT


He reached the end of Vine Street and began the climb into Pinyon Canyon. Night had started to fall. The edges of the trees burned with a pale violet light and their centers gradually turned from deep purple to black. The same violet piping, like a Neon tube, outlined the top of the ugly, hump-backed hills and they were almost beautiful.” Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

October 17, 2013 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Nathanael West, author of the 1939 novel The Day of the Locusta biting depiction of Hollywood, the movie business, and life in Los Angeles.

West, like his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, was working as a screenwriter in 1940 — the year that marked the end to both men’s lives. Fitzgerald dropped dead of a heart attack at age 44 on December 21, 1940 at an apartment in near Sunset and LaCienega. West and his wife died the following day in an auto accident — when some believe they were on their way to a memorial service for Fitzgerald. During his four years in Los Angeles, West wrote over a dozen screenplays.

Photo: Tobysx70, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more work here.

by Shel Silverstein
So what if nobody came?
I’ll have ALL the ice cream and tea,
And I’ll laugh with myself,
And I’ll dance with myself,
And I’ll sing, “Happy Birthday to me!”

On Sept. 25th we celebrate the birthday of the multi-gifted Shel Silverstein (1930-1999).

Drawing: “Happy Birthday to me!” by Shel Silverstein, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



On September 24, 1896, the great American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald made his earthly debut in the house pictured above, located at 481 Laurel Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota. Fitzgerald’s father named him Francis Scott Key in honor of his distant cousin who wrote the “Star Spangled Banner.” Fitzgerald is pictured at left in 1897, bundled up for the Minnesota weather, with his birthplace in the background.

In 2004, Friends of Libraries USA declared Fitzgerald’s birthplace a National Literary Landmark — one of only a few such designations in the United States.


August 16, 2013 marks the 93rd anniversary of Charles Bukowski’s birth — and next year will mark the 20th anniversary of his passing. To honor one of our favorite authors, we will release the Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology in August 2013 — and we promise the book will be available by the end of the month. (We were shooting for an August 16th release date, but for various reasons have had to push the date a few weeks ahead.)

The illustration above right by Bradley Wind will appear in the Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology, along with paintings, drawings, poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs, and photographs from about 70 writers and artists around the world.

To celebrate the master poet, this post features one of his most renowned and beloved poems.

Poem by Charles Bukowski

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

We celebrate Herman Melville’s 194th birthday today with an erasure poem based on the opening page of Melville’s masterwork, Moby-Dick, courtesy of source material and erasure software at Wave Books.

Erasure Poem by Silver Birch Press
In honor of the mighty Melville’s birthday, we invite our readers to create their own Moby-Dick-inspired erasure poems and email them to We promise to post your creations! Get started at this link.


ABOUT HERMAN MELVILLE:  Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American writer best known for the novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the “Melville Revival” in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America. (Read more at

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively . . . For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.” HUNTER S. THOMPSON

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hunter S. Thompson has been called many things — he has avid fans (Tom Wolfe called him “the greatest American comic writer of the 20th century”) and rabid detractors ( recently lumped him in with its “most irrationally hated writers”). But whether you love him or hate him, today marks Hunter S. Thompson’s 76th birthday. Cheers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hunter Stockton Thompson (1937- 2005) was an American journalist and author who rose to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967).  He became a counterculture figure with his own brand of New Journalism he termed “Gonzo,” an experimental style of journalism where reporters involve themselves in the action and become central figures in their stories. Thompson remains best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1972), a rumination on the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement, first serialized in Rolling Stone, and in 1998 released as a film starring Johnny Depp. (Read more at

Portrait of Hunter S. Thompson by Jeff Morgan, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, Used by Permission


July 12, 2013 marks the 196th birthday of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),  an American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, surveyor, historian, and much more. Today,Thoreau is best remembered for his book Walden (1854), a memoir of living in the woods, close to nature. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

During his brief life — he passed away at age 44 — Thoreau spent much of his time writing, leaving behind an extensive body of work.

A written word is…the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.”


Today, there is at long last glorious rain — which I love any day of the year — in Los Angeles. And whether or not you like rain — and I don’t think most Angelenos like it, judging by their elaborate moisture-averting wardrobes — we need it to keep the dry brush from bursting into flames.

The above paragraph is a preamble to saying I woke up to the beautiful sight of a quarter-sized (including the legs) spider in my bathtub, looking for shelter from the storm. I would have left him/her there, except my cat Clancy likes to chase and eat spiders — and I didn’t think it wise for the cat or the spider. So i captured said spider in a jar that once held Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves (great with plain greek yogurt) and ushered him/her outside, where I hoped the arachnid found a place to wait out the rain.

The above two paragraphs are a preamble to marking the 114th birthday of E.B. White, author of one of my all-time favorite books, Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte, as most people know, was the spider that was a “a good writer” and “true friend” to Wilbur — a pig she saves from the slaughterhouse. (And for those who believe in animal totems — or who find them interesting — spiders are the totem of writers.)

So let’s enjoy a passage from the delightful, charming, profound Charlotte’s Web, a masterpiece for young and old by E.B. White.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985), was an American writer. He was a contributor to The New Yorker and a co-author of the English language style guide, The Elements of Style. He also wrote books for children, including Charlotte’s WebStuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. In a 2012 survey, readers of School Library Journal voted Charlotte’s Web the top children’s novel of all time. (Read more at


On Tuesday, July 23, 2013, the Los Angeles Visionary Association (LAVA) will host a party to celebrate Raymond Chandler’s 125th birthday. Reservations for this free event will open at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 8th, at the LAVA websiteThe festivities will take place  in the historic spaces where the legendary noir novelist learned first-hand about civic corruption, wealth, and vice.

The evening will begin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club (corner of 7th and Olive Street) — Chandler’s old stomping grounds — in the club’s newly redecorated third-floor bar, Invention, where the young oil executive played bridge and avoided returning to the offices of the Dabney Oil Syndicate, visible through the bar’s tall windows. The party will then move down the block to the Oviatt Building, the seat of power for Chandler’s greatest villain — Derace Kingsley (not-so-loosely based on James Oviatt) in the novel The Lady in the Lake  before returning to the club for a last toast to the great author.

The evening will include readings and musings on Chandler’s legacy and his impact on how people view Los Angeles—past, present, and future.

WHAT: Raymond Chandler’s 125th birthday celebration

WHEN: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 7-10 p.m

WHERE: Los Angeles Athletic Club, 431 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90014

ADMISSION PRICE: Free (with cash bar)

RSVP: Starting Monday, July 8, 2013 at 10 a.m., at this link