Words shape my life—whether I’m writing them or reading them. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d offer a list of some of the writers I’m grateful for this year.
Roger Angell: If you’re a baseball fan you probably already know he’s one of the most colorful and insightful chroniclers of the sport there is. And if you’re not a baseball fan, his essays will turn you into one—or at least teach you how the game works. Although my Mets lost the World Series this year, I’m grateful that The New Yorker gave Angell some of its digital real estate to write about it.
MB Caschetta: I spend most of my recreational reading time in periodicals (The New Yorker, Vanity Fair) or nonfiction. But when I had a few days to myself this summer, I plopped myself in a comfy corner and read Caschetta’s multiple award-winning first novel, Miracle Girls. Funny, evocative, and moving.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: I saw Hamilton at the Public Theater in February, having bought the last two tickets to that performance about four months earlier. Here’s a link to the video that convinced me I had to see it, Lin-Manuel Miranda performing the opening number solo at the White House. Amazing, right? But the fully staged production blew me away. At the end of the performance I attended—three days before the reviews came out—the entire audience leapt to its feet simultaneously. This was not one of those typical New Yorker “let me be the first to get to a taxi” standing O’s. It was not a “the people in front of me stood up and now I can’t see anything unless I stand too” ovation. It was—for me at least—an acknowledgement that everyone from the writer (Miranda, now a MacArthur-certified “genius”) to the performers (Miranda again, alongside a diverse cast of first-rate actor/singer/dancers) had conjured brilliance on that stage. And I would never be able to look at a musical the same way again.
Ron Chernow: I read his House of Morgan decades ago, so already I knew about his amazing power to bring the past to life. But after I saw Hamilton the musical, I had to read the book that started it all.
Lisa Kron: She’s made me laugh since I first saw her maybe 30 years ago in her one-woman show 101 Most Humiliating Stories. She’s made me cry plenty, too. And laugh-cry at the same time. What would that be, craugh? As hard and as lonely as it is to be a writer sometimes, Kron has kept telling her stories and this year her story-telling won her two Tony Awards—one for writing the book of the remarkable, ground-breaking musical Fun Home and the other for the score, for which she wrote the lyrics with Jeanine Tesori supplying the music. If you were one of the dozen people watching the Tony telecast, you didn’t see these awards—they were presented during the commercials. So here’s a video of her first acceptance speech. Press on past the obligatory thank-yous to the “I have had a dream” section.
If I may put on my speechwriter hat for a moment, that’s how you write an acceptance speech: tell a story, make a point. Change the world. Words can do that. It’s one reason I love them—and Kron—so much.
Whose work are you thankful for? Hit up the comment section below.