I tend to think things happen for a reason, so when I went to grab a booth at a local cafe and the nice elderly gentleman vacating it offered me his newspapers I said yes. This, despite my vow to spend most of December politics and sports free. (While sports offer much enjoyment, I find the over-identification people have with teams a bit tedious, frankly).

Anyway, I skipped the front section of The New York Times and went right to The Arts. It was there that I read about author Jaimy Gordon, whose novel Lord of Misrule won the National Book Award for fiction last month. In a piece titled “Writer Races To Victory From Way Off the Pace,” Charles McGrath writes about Gordon’s life, work and publishing path.

She is so unconventional, unabashed about her desire for the power that comes from writing (“What I want right now it to see my book in an airport … “), and has written an award-winning book that no mainstream publisher wanted. So cool and inspiring.

This on a day that also happens to be Jane Austen’s birthday. As I read about her life in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac this morning, I marveled yet again at a woman who defied convention. She spent much of her time writing novels, yet even her closest relatives claim to have never seen her doing so. She never married, but that she knew romantic love is clear from her work. It is easy to see how Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy sprung from her pen given her own experiences and the constraints of the time.

What a lovely respite today …