Monday, January 14, 2008

Birthdays for Dowd and “Nobody Said Not to Go” Hahn

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maureen Dowd was born on this day in 1952. Though the Washington, DC-based New York Times columnist has likely churned out millions of words in her career and her name is so well known it’s practically a household word (depending, I guess, on the household) there have only been two books thus far: 2004’s Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk (Putnam) and the slightly ridiculous Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide (Putnam) from 2005.

The year her most recent book came out, New York Magazine called Dowd, “the most dangerous columnist in America.” Which seems at least a little like overstatement, especially since she’s sometimes a little slow on the uptake.

Emily (“Mickey”) Hahn, who shares Dowd’s birthday, was considerably more prolific. Born in 1905, Hahn wrote 52 books and had a career at The New Yorker that lasted 68 years. Today in Literature asks the obvious when they point out that she had a “personal life of storybook proportions” and when they ask “why Hahn is not better known.”
Similar nay-saying and head-shaking attended her cigar-smoking, her enjoyment of men and alcohol, her trip across the U.S. in a Model T with her girlfriend (both disguised as men), her journey to the Belgian Congo as a Red Cross worker, her time as the concubine of a Chinese poet in Shanghai, her addiction to opium, her affair and illegitimate child with the head of the British Secret Service in Hong Kong, her pioneer work in environmentalism and wildlife preservation, and the captivating candor with which she wrote about all of this “Though I had always wanted to be an opium addict,” one of her collected New Yorker pieces begins, “I can’t claim that as the reason I went to China.”

The Literature Today tribute is here. Hahn’s Wikipedia entry includes a bibliography.



Blogger Mo MoDo said...

I'm glad somebody else remembered. I already wished Maureen Dowd a happy birthday on my blog.

There are parts of Are Men Necessary? that are silly, but she does hide some nuggets of wisdom about women in the workplace in all the witty repartee.

Monday, January 14, 2008 at 5:00:00 AM PST  

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