Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July Birthdays

Thomas Berger
This afternoon I found myself browsing through the desk calendar I keep in my home office.  That's not something I do a lot of, despite the fact that I always try to keep a book-oriented desk calendar around - this year it's the Barnes & Noble 2011 Desk Diary: Book of Days.  Half-way through the year, I can say that this has turned out to be one of my favorites, and that I'll be looking for the 2012 version for next year's blog notes, book logs, etc.

What I noticed this afternoon is that the month of July is a pretty awesome month for author births.  Take a look at this list:
July 1, 1892 James M. Cain

July 2, 1877 Herman Hesse

July 3, 1883 Franz Kafka

July 4, 1804 Nathaniel Hawthorne

July 8, 1913 Walter Kerr

July 12, 1933 Donald E. Westlake

July 17, 1889 Erle Stanley Gardner

July 18, 1937 Hunter S. Thompson

July 20, 1924 Thomas Berger

July 21, 1899 Ernest Hemingway

July 23, 1888 Raymond Chandler

July 26, 1856 George Bernard Shaw

Jul7 28, 1927 John Ashbery

July 29, 1905 Stanley Kunitz
Not too shabby a list, that.  July seems to have been particularly kind to mystery writers, including four of the giants of the genre in its ranks: Cain, Westlake, Gardner, and Chandler.  What surprises me most is the year in which those four were born, especially considering how cutting-edge Cain and Chandler seemed to be to me even when I was reading them for the first time in the '60s.  And who would believe that the man who invented Perry Mason was born all the way back in 1889?  Considering how late into the twentieth century that show was on television, it hardly seems possible.

July also blessed us with one of my favorite writers, Thomas Berger, a writer perhaps still best known for Little Big Man (but my personal favorite of his is one called The Houseguest, a very strange book, indeed).  And who could quarrel with a month that produced Kafka, Hesse, Hemingway, and Shaw?

Confession time: Hunter Thompson bores me to tears, so that's minus one point for July.  And, quite frankly, I can't place Kerr, Ashbery, or Kunitz - that's minus three points for me.  Also, it appears that Barnes & Noble pretty much only note "old school" authors, with very, very few of the featured writers having been born after 1950.  Perhaps, next year, B&N should put out a "modern author" desk diary as an alternative to this one.  (On a side note, I saw that  Beverly Cleary is 95 years old!)

All in all, I suspect that July will be hard to beat as a birthday-month for authors.


  1. I think Walter Kerr was a playwright. There's a Walter Kerr theatre on Broadway.

  2. That makes me happy (and nervous), July-birthday-Nik!

  3. I think you're right about Kerr, C.B...that rings a tiny little bell in my mind.

  4. Nik, you are in good company...and under lots of pressure not to let down the side.