spirit_keeperIn a world filled with redundancy, repetition, and nothing new under the sun, one moment in time stands out as deliciously unique—the moment of reunion between two groups of humans who had been geographically separated for millennia unnumbered. In other words, 1492—when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Because the people Columbus “discovered” had been cut off from the rest of the world for who knows how long, the reunion offered the rare opportunity to learn all kinds of things about our species, to determine which traits are universal and which are cultural, and to figure out once and for all what really makes us clever monkeys tick.

Then the moment passed.

We got distracted, as always, by fussing, fighting, and dying, and the moments kept slipping away until here we are today.

But we can’t just let that moment go.  It’s too important, too tantalizing, too rife with possibilities, and I hope it isn’t too late to learn a thing or two from it.  If we could pry ourselves away from our usual fussing, fighting and dying—even for just a moment—surely we can still learn something very important.

When we look back at that singular event in 1492, the first thing we should notice is how similar all those people were.  Oh, I know, history buffs will howl in indignation, eager to cite dozens of differences between the Europeans and the people they encountered.  But the differences between Columbus and the Native-Guy-Whose-Name-We-Did-Not-Think-to-Record are incidental, compared to the differences between Columbus and the seagulls dropping guano on his poopdeck or between the Native Guy and the palm trees standing as silent witnesses to this momentous meeting of long-lost relations.

Humans are humans, after all, and, regardless of the massive cultural differences between the men meeting on that fateful beach, the thirsty mosquitoes buzzing ‘round their heads surely found them all delicious.

If all humans everywhere are members of the same species, then Columbus and the Native Guy were basically brothers.  Of course, in 1492 the Europeans immediately concluded they were Big Brother, because their cultures were obviously more advanced than any in North American.  Europe was, after all, the Old World, and those newbie Americans had their work cut out for them just to catch up with all the wonders of modern civilization.

But, um, just calling one culture older than another doesn’t make it so, you know.  Maybe at some point some people wandered this way while others wandered that way, but at no point in human history did new people just materialize out of thin air.  The fact is, all humans on earth can trace their lineage back for the exact same amount of time.  Therefore, the First Americans were not the goofy kid brother of the know-it-all Europeans.  If anything, these races were fraternal twins.

What this means is that North American cultures of 1492 were not a throwback to the Stone Age, not some lost cluster of cavemen that time somehow forgot.  Though they were, perhaps, geographically separated from the rest of the world, as far as I know the First Americans had not gotten caught in a stasis field wherein they stayed exactly the same for 15,000 years while the rest of the world grew up.  In 1492, the people of North America were every bit as mature, every bit as evolved as their counterparts of Europe.

Wait–what?  If the First Americans weren’t primitive savages, then what the hell were they?  Is it possible the cultures of Europe were not clearly better, brighter, older and wiser than those in North America, but that they were, in fact, just different?  But . . . but that flies in the face of everything we’ve been absolutely certain of for over 500 years!  Ah, well.  Vanity of vanities . . . there is no new thing under the sun.

It is so human to make mistakes.  Before Columbus, Europeans were quite sure the earth was flat.  Columbus himself died convinced he’d made it to China.  For 500 years we’ve been absolutely certain the Indians were lagging far behind Europeans in cultural development.  But what if that magic moment in 1492 was the meeting of two absolute equals?  What if the First American cultures were different from those of Europe, not because Americans were primitive savages, but because the First Americans made a whole series of different lifestyles choices than did the people of Europe?

I wrote The Spirit Keeper because I am hopelessly fascinated with the different choices made by the peoples of Europe and North America.  To me, the differences between Columbus and Native Guy, which seemed so vast and insurmountable to the two of them but so incidental to the hungry mosquitoes, are a treasure trove of insight into the human species, and by comparing the choices the people made, I think we can pull out all kinds of golden nuggets of pure truth.  Most of the basic choices of daily life—food, clothing, shelter, family, community, language—were made according to very different criteria in those two very different worlds.  And, by the way, neither of those worlds was old or new, advanced or primitive, better or worse—they really were just different worlds.

Though I could go on and on about the repercussions of the choices made by the different people, I think I should pause a moment to let readers digest what I’ve said thus far.

But please hurry.  The moment’s almost gone . . .

Next time:  The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned from the First Americans


Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailWhen I was a little girl, I used to sit upstairs and look out my bedroom window for so long that the field was transformed into a giant playground. It was filled with modern and brand-new monkey bars, tall swings, sliding boards, see-saws -– you name it. My street wasn’t hard-packed dirt, it was smooth black asphalt, like it was in white neighborhoods. The trash and dead-branch-filled ditch in front of our house became a clean swooshing stream. We had a front porch, where the floorboards were painted a shiny bright blue, the railing was in tact and a beautiful wooden swing swung back and forth next to a wicker table that housed a frothy pitcher of iced tea. This, instead of walking out the front door and breaking your neck when you dropped three feet into a puddle of sand, and where the overhang was held up by two-by-fours.

My bedroom had starched eyelet curtains, a box spring and thick firm mattress, velvety carpet and enough heat or cool air coming out of the vents to make the hair on the nape of my neck tickle. I had a dresser with drawers that actually pulled out in one tug, and little bottles of perfume sitting on lace doilies. Instead, during winter, there was ice on the inside of the window, piles of thin blankets on a mattress with broken springs that dipped in the middle so my sister and I would spend more energy than we needed to trying not to bump butts; summer, we burned up at night and had to stick our heads out the window to breathe. The floor gave us splinters, and when it was dark, we knew how to avoid the holes. We used buckets to catch the rain that dripped right through the pink insulation.

“Are you deaf, girl?” my mother would say, finally coming up the tight stairwell to see if I was doing something I had no business doing because that had to be the only reason I was pretending not to hear her. But I didn’t hear her. I was busy, recreating my world just the way I wanted it.

I still do this.

Except now I understand why. Over the years, I learned that there are some things in the world that are perfect, beautiful, and in total harmony: mountains, forests, rivers, etc. Over the years, I’ve experienced and witnessed happiness, a sense of worth and well-being, being in love, the notion of being guided in the right direction. On the other hand, I’ve experiences and observed uncertainty, frustration, pain in a variety of forms, misery, unhappiness, depression, lovelessness, loneliness, a feeling of being lost, of floating out there in the ozone, faithlessness, and anger. Well, hell, I needed an outlet for all these feelings and I found it in my fingers.

What I found was that I was not alone, that even when I could “fix” things in my own life, there were still so many wrongs I saw happening to others that I took it personally. So I have continuously asked myself that if I could alter reality to make it better, how would I do it? First, I have to know what’s wrong, then I have to understand why and then how to go about fixing it. It sounds easier than it is because many other things come into play, like dealing with human beings totally unlike myself. Which means I have had to develop this thing called compassion, that I’ve had to learn to dismiss (in some cases) my own notion of right and wrong, and literally put myself in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes I resist, because it’s easier to resist than it is to surrender. When you surrender it’s scary because you feel out of control. I like being in control.

However, if I were able to stop questioning why we as people are not happy and content, why it is so difficult to live more qualitative lives, then I’d be able to stop writing. On the contrary, I know there is no such thing as being perfect or living a perfect life. But, I also know that most people want to know that there will be a time in one’s life where things will go smoothly. Where we can smile for a period of time.

So why don’t we? What kinds of things stand in our way or what kind of obstacles do we impose on ourselves? I think most of us know what we want, but what happens when we don’t or can’t get it? It could be a man. A job. A home. Peace of mind. Energy. More willpower. What’s stopping us?

Well, I like to count the ways, and I do it dramatically. I would like to see more of us happier, healthier, fresher, more eager to please each other as well as ourselves.

I guess, then, I could say that I write because I want to explore the condition of my own life and the lives of others so that it makes sense, so it means something, so that I might learn from yesterday and right now how it can be of use in the future. I want to be a stronger person, smarter, more interesting. Better able to handle rejection and pain and guilt and happiness. I want my life to matter. I want others to know that their lives matter. That we have more power than we realize. And that all we really have is right now.


Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailFive memorable moments as a writer:

1) When I received a letter from an anthology advising me that they were publishing my short story.

2) When I wrote the last sentence of my first novel, Mama, and knew it was the last sentence. My chest sunk and I believe I lost quite a few ounces of tears.

3) When Waiting To Exhale debuted on the New York Times Bestseller’s list. I didn’t believe it. Not even after I saw it.

4) When I have written the first sentence of each novel, and I never change them. It’s how I open the door to the story.

5) When I realize what my next novel is going to be. And then am plagued by how in the world I’m going to tell it.


latino_americansWhen a publication date arrives, the time when you start to get feedback about the work you’ve done begins. It’s also when you start to hear the questions on readers and interviewers minds.

Latino Americans is my third book, and as with the other two, I’m finding what catches the eye of people who have read or are reading a new work is not what I would have expected.

One question almost everyone who is not Latino asks is “But are they really one people? Can you talk about these 50 million people as if they’re one kind of people?” One of the things that make this a good question is that there’s no easy answer. For example, a generational divide exists over the identification of Hispanic or Latino. Among older people, the primary identifier is national origin, as in, “I’m Mexican…I’m Dominican…I’m Cuban.” Back in the 60s and 70s, Mexicans were largely in the Southwest and Chicago, Puerto Ricans in the New York metropolitan area, and Cubans mostly in South Florida. A growing population, a changing America, millions more native born, and more Hispanic people from more countries living in more parts of the country has spurred the creation of something new, and very much of the United States.

More and more young people tell me they’re very comfortable calling themselves Latina or Latino, and in mixed circles of friends…Mexican, Central and South American, Caribbean, the national origins are more a detail than a determinant of anything.

For those making policy, making ads, or just trying to get their arms around what it means that one out of every six Americans now traces their family back to the Spanish-speaking nations of our hemisphere, a period of adjustment may be required. It need not be feared. You just have to live your way into it.

A struggling school filled with American-born Salvadoran kindergartners in Los Angeles, a Chicago high school trying to hold on to teenage immigrants from Mexico, a middle school in the Bronx trying to convince Dominican and Puerto Rican kids they can go to college have differing and similar challenges. However, the stakes are much higher than they were 50 years ago when America could, and did, write off too many Latino kids as destined for failure.

If America is going to remain a rich and powerful nation, she cannot continue to put up the kinds of numbers in reading and math, high school graduation, and college degrees that she has so far. A generation from now one out of three teenagers in America will be Latino. Instead of 16% of the population, the numbers are projected to be more like 30-32%. If only one of ten are completing four-year degrees in that browner American future, there simply won’t be enough skilled and well-educated people to keep the country affluent.

That’s a message my book carries for the Latinos hungry for an American history that includes them, and for everyone else who is trying to understand where their country has been, and where it’s going.

Watch the Latino Americans series on PBS


you_knew_me_whenLast month, I was very fortunate to have a beautiful book preview party thrown for me by Serena & Lily at their gorgeous flagship store in The Hamptons. As I signed bookplates for my new novel, You Knew Me When, which people were pre-ordering, one woman sat down next to me and said, “I’ve always wanted to be an author. It seems like such a relaxing career.” I was surprised to hear this, as I’ve never experienced that particular feeling about my job, nor has anyone ever remarked similarly. Still, I was curious as to her rationale. “What makes you think that?” I asked.

She went on to explain that the idea of staying in bed all day with her laptop and making up characters and plots is such an appealing idea, as opposed to going to an office and sitting in a cubicle from 9-5. Um, okay. I’m pretty sure I’ve never written a word from the comfort of my bed, nor have I ever worked 9-5. In turn, I told her that there’s way more to being an author than writing, and she was quite intrigued by all that can go into it.

For one, publicity is just as important as writing. Sure, you have to have a good “product” to sell. But, and this is big but, if no one knows about your phenomenal book, then no one will buy it, and your career as an author will be over pretty damn fast.

With this knowledge in hand, I decided to get creative with my marketing plan for You Knew Me When. After all, you can’t rely on your publicist to do everything—they have other books to promote too.

Since You Knew Me When is based around the cosmetics industry and the characters are all stylish in their own ways, my first idea was to approach nail polish companies to see if they’d be willing to partner to create a polish named after the book. I reached out to at least a dozen different brands and ended up joining forces with my top choice, Zoya. Through the brainstorming process, their brilliant team came up with an even better concept: to manufacture the “You Knew Me When” collection of polishes—three stunning shades named after the three main female characters in the novel—Katherine Hill, Laney Marten, and Luella Hancock.

Once this brainchild was on its way to inception, I met the fabulously talented clothing designer, Alessandra Meskita, and we knew we had to work together. I told her about the nail polish set and, immediately, she said, “I have to do a ‘You Knew Me When’ dress collection named for the characters.” I mean, seriously, who am I to deny her that? And here I am a few months later with three amazing dresses: “Katherine,” “Laney,” and “Luella,” which will be sold in stores nationwide and in Alessandra’s brand new Meskita boutique which opens in Beverly Hills in October! Did I mention that she also made “Emily” and “Brooke” dresses (Brooke is my middle name).

So, now I had nail polish and clothing. What else? Why stop there? How about jewelry? Enter Dodo by Pomellato and their spectacular 18kt gold charms, each with a special message. I had the unique opportunity to select the charms that best reflect the personalities of my novel’s characters: the butterfly with the message “I love my freedom” for high powered cosmetics executive Katherine Hill who does everything on her own and never takes no for an answer; the starfish “Handle with care” for the spirited and ever loyal Laney Marten who always says what’s on her mind whether you like it or not; and the angelfish whose message “You work miracles” echoes the relentlessly generous but also painstakingly private personality of Luella Hancock.

I’m well aware that this may not be every author’s approach to marketing their book, but it’s been working wonders for me! And I don’t plan to stop with this novel. Stay tuned for brand new collections to complement my next release: The Love That Lies Ahead, which comes out in September 2014!

 Visit Emily Liebert’s website to check out You Knew Me When nail polish colors and more.

 


who_asked_youWe asked Terry McMillan, what’s your favorite…

Book you’ve written: Mama

Book written by someone else: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Reading place: Airplanes

Quote: “Man will become better only once you make him see what he is like.” (Anton Chekov)

Vacation spot: Paris

Fast food restaurant: In & Out Burger ;-(  (Shameful)

Ice cream flavor: Vanilla

Pizza topping: Tomatoes

Snack: Potato chips (Shameful)

Workout: The kind where I don’t move but get results as if I did.

TV show: Judge Judy!

Movie: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight

Male performer: Bruno Mars

Female performer: Adele

Clothing brand: None (Am not a label whore)

Sneaker brand: Vans! (Slip-ons)

Gadget: None! I hate them all!

Color: Orange (Summer); Purple (Winter); Yellow (Spring); Red (Fall)

Number: 11

Time of day: 5 a.m.


all_good_thingsThere are places in the world that need no introduction – the mere sound of their names automatically triggers postcard images. Paris happens to be one; Tahiti is another. Both destinations make people dream, one for its man-made beauty, the glorious monuments and handsome buildings, the other for its natural splendour and lush landscape. Everyone from Bougainville to Brando has raved about Tahiti, calling it the new Utopia, Garden of Eden, Isle of Love, among other superlatives. So the reaction when we announced our move to the celebrated Pacific island was perhaps unsurprising. ‘From Paris to Paradise’ exclaimed one friend enviously.

The setting for our new life truly was idyllic. We chose to live not on Tahiti but on neighbouring Mo’orea, only thirty minutes by fast ferry from Pape’ete and less developed and congested than the main island. From our front door we could gaze at the spectacular spires of mountains, surging up from the interior. Round the back, just metres from the porch where we mostly lived, the turquoise lagoon spread out from the shoreline like a silk petticoat. I could go on and on about this wondrous womb of water, where I began each day with an early swim. City girl that I was, the submarine world was foreign and thrilling to me: the wiggling webs of refracted light; the euphoric greens and blues of the lagoon; the spotted eagle rays that glided by, shy and graceful.

Yet All Good Things is not, I’m afraid, a tale of paradise found. If in places it might seem to fan the myth of Tahiti, other parts of the book might be said to debunk it – though in fact I didn’t set out to do either. As in Almost French, my memoir about life in Paris, my aim was to look beyond the fantasy. Real life is never postcard-perfect. I wanted to celebrate all that I loved about our new home while also being honest about the particular challenges I faced there – challenges that stemmed as much from the private dreams and hopes I’d brought with me as the reality of living on a small, remote island.

There’s an element of escape in every big move and ours to Tahiti – the ultimate escapists’ destination, after all – was no different. The opportunity arrived out of the blue in the form of a job offer for my husband, Frédéric. At a different point of our lives we might not even have considered it. But an unwelcome poignancy had cast a shadow over our carefree Paris existence. Years of infertility treatment had produced nothing but a string of failures and we were beginning to despair of ever having a child. Tahiti offered us a fresh start – a new professional challenge for Frédéric, a chance for me to write the novel I’d been researching in an environment with few distractions. And perhaps, we dared hope but not say aloud, a beautiful, unpolluted, fertile island would be an ideal place to fall pregnant naturally.

It’s as old as the hills, this idea of islands as earthly paradise, and it helps explain why Tahiti was hailed as a dream come true the moment the first Europeans set eyes on it. Yet once we were settled on Mo’orea another enduring perception of islands sprang to mind. From my writing desk I’d stare at the sparkling lagoon and the inky ocean beyond the reef, uplifted by the sight even as I felt trapped by it. From that tiny coin of land amid Earth’s grandest ocean, the rest of the world seemed like another planet. ‘Every island is a potential Alcatraz’, writes Thurston Clarke in Searching for Paradise.

This paradise-prison dichotomy heightened my daily experience on Mo’orea, adding drama and meaning to aspects of ordinary life. The full moons that rolled runners of gold light across the lagoon were the hugest, most marvellous moons I’d ever seen; the kind generosity of our Polynesian neighbours seemed boundless. I’d never known time to be as elastic as during those long hours between my early morning swim and Frédéric’s return from work. My own sense of inner emptiness expanded too.

When people comment how lucky I am to have lived in exotic places, I can only agree, though not for the reasons they might imagine. I didn’t find paradise on the island, I didn’t find serenity among the coconut palms. Yet perhaps the exuberant glare of the lagoon did throw light on some essential truths. Tu te retrouves face à toi-même sur un île, people warned me when we first arrived. You come face to face with yourself on an island. It’s true, you do. I’m grateful now for the way things came to a head. Unexpectedly, indirectly, the island helped my dream come true.


Lisa Gardner Conway Shelter CampaignNew York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner recently hit 30,000 fans on Facebook (and she’s still going, visit her page). To celebrate she donated $10,000 to the Conway Area Humane Society. She shared with us her thoughts on the special bond between writers and animals:

I think authors even more so than most value the human-animal bond.  It’s hard to picture a writer out there who doesn’t have a dog at her feet or a cat on her lap.  Certainly, all my novels have been penned with a great deal of furry support and tail-wagging encouragement.  The love and companionship of my pets is the one thing that keeps the writing process from being totally isolating.  Let’s face it, caring for animals makes us and them happy, and the world a better place.  And there is something magical about going to a shelter and meeting an animal you realize instantly is the One.  Your perfect friend.  Your four-legged soul mate.  The new member of your family.  Shelters make all sorts of happily ever afters come true.

Lisa Gardner’s next book is out in January 2014. Learn more about Fear Nothing.


gallery_of_vanished_husbandsI’ve now written three novels (that’s three if you don’t count the awful one lurking in a box beneath the bed—we don’t have monsters living in our house, we have failed novels). I suppose that means I should have some confidence as I know, if nothing else, how to write and finish a book. I should know what the process is like. But I’ve found writing each book to be a very different experience.

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands has been the most emotional book to write. Shortly after I started writing, I discovered that I was pregnant, and then, as often happens, I miscarried. For the first time in my life I was too sad to write. I’ve read Keats and I know that melancholy is supposed to be literary rocket fuel, but it didn’t work like that for me. Or perhaps it only works with melancholy—that beautiful sadness—but simple, dragging unhappiness and grief left me empty and quiet inside and for a while, unable to write.

After a couple of months, I picked up the novel, re-read it like a stranger and started to slowly write myself out of unhappiness and back into the book. Then, a few months in, I found I was pregnant again. This time everything was fine and my excitement and anxiety about impending motherhood worked its way into my novel. The children in the story had voices that very much wanted to be heard. I had to get out of the way and let them speak.

The novel grew in time with my belly. I’d intended it to be on the short side (I always do, it’s not happened yet) but by the summer, it was quite clear that it would be touch-and-go as to whether manuscript or baby was delivered first. In the end, I finished the novel first, but only by a matter of days and only because our son, Luke, had the generosity to be late.

After the baby came the edit. Much like children, novels don’t arrive fully formed and ready to go off into the world, but take a good deal of nurturing. I worked while Luke slept—sometimes in a Moses basket at my feet, sometimes on my shoulder as I typed with one hand. Those days are merged with my memories of new motherhood, when time feels like it’s on fast-forward and each moment is so precious and fleeting, I found myself growing nostalgic for the present. It was an odd experience to re-read passages about my protagonist, Juliet Montague’s views and experiences of motherhood, which I’d written before becoming a mother myself. Sometimes I was tempted to change details but in the end I realized that her experiences were simply different from mine. I might have created her, but we didn’t need to agree on all things.

I’m now starting to write something new. For the first time in a few years, I don’t have all day to procrastinate and think about writing. There’s no time for rituals—when I have a moment to myself, I’m at my desk. I’m not sure how the process of writing will turn out. All I know is that much like a child it will be unique and quite different from the others.


new_york_storiesThe 1939 short story “Bread Alone” by John O’Hara, one of his most insightful and most moving, is a great favorite of mine, not least because it is largely set at a major league baseball game, specifically in Yankee Stadium.  If I have spent months of my life reading O’Hara’s work, and writing about it (and I have), then I estimate my time mulling over baseball statistics to be measurable in years—how many, I do not care to estimate. But it’s a lot of years.
In reconsidering the story recently, I realized that I had the tools, thanks to baseballreference.com, a website responsible for enabling baseball freaks like me to fritter away their lives, to answer a question about this story, and indirectly about the writing habits of John O’Hara: I could tell whether the baseball game O’Hara describes actually took place or if it is a purely fictional creation of his.
O’Hara enjoyed baseball, though he only rarely wrote about it, and his writing career was built on the no-nonsense training he absorbed as a young reporter, so it seemed entirely possible that O’Hara based the story on an actual game, possibly one that he had seen himself at Yankee Stadium. All I had to do to verify this would be to review every single game the Yankees ever played, and see if one conformed to O’Hara’s description of the game in his story.
Or that’s what I would have had to do without the baseballreference.com website, anyway, which is why I never thought of researching this question. (I may be baseball-crazy, and O’Hara-crazy, but I’m not crazy-crazy.)  In the game O’Hara describes, Joe DiMaggio hits a late-inning home run into the grandstand near his protagonist’s seat, and the story’s climax concerns the search for the souvenir baseball. Furthermore, O’Hara gives other specific details about the game: the Yankees won it easily, they scored five runs in the fifth inning, DiMaggio’s home run came in the eighth inning, and the unnamed opposing team went down quickly in the top of the ninth inning. Since the game took place at Yankee Stadium, I can naturally disregard all their away games, and O’Hara specifies that this game took place late in the season. Perhaps the biggest help is the publication date:  it appeared in the September 23, 1939 issue of The New Yorker.  For O’Hara to have described an actual historical game, it must have taken place no later than Labor Day of that year, give or take a week.  Joe DiMaggio first played in Yankee Stadium in 1936, leaving me a little fewer than four seasons of home games to peruse in search of “Bread Alone”’s setting.
This is where the website came in very handy: it has catalogued every home run DiMaggio (and thousands of other players) ever hit, and it provides details about the opposing team and pitcher, the score at the time, the box score of the game, and about thirty other bits of data.  So I searched for all the home runs DiMaggio hit at Yankee Stadium in the bottom of the eighth inning in games the Yankees won after scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth from 1936 through 1939.
My conclusion? John O’Hara wrote fiction.
But there were a few games that came very close to satisfying O’Hara’s fictional conditions. The closest (I will spare you my spreadsheet ranking the ten closest games) took place on August 3rd, 1939 against the Detroit Tigers. Exactly as O’Hara described, the Yankees won the game comfortably by a score of 12 to 3, they scored the bulk of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, and most significantly Joe DiMaggio hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. (It differed from O’Hara’s description in that the Yankees scored 6 runs, not 5, in the bottom of the fifth, and that the Tigers had their strongest inning, not their weakest, in the top of the ninth.) And, not that this is textual, but I always imagined that the game in the story took place on a Sunday, since the point of it is that the protagonist is a working man who cannot just choose to take a day off work to go to a ballgame.  August 3rd, 1939, however, was a Thursday.
So O’Hara, not too surprisingly, created a plausible scenario that we have every reason to believe could be historical but which turns out to be lovingly embellished. This conforms closely to his stated method of spinning stories, in which he would actually witness some event, typically a conversation between two people unknown to him, and then imagine the backstory and the result of the snippet of overheard conversation.  I’m sure O’Hara’s imagination made for a livelier narrative than the true backstory and the actual result, as it did here—it’s hard for me to read “Bread Alone” without misting up a bit.
The boxscore to the game I reference above can be found here.