The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Big Read

A few weeks ago, we shared our 15 favorite fictional females with you. As we close out Women's History Month, we thought we'd put together a different set of literary heroines: the authors themselves. While this list is far from complete, we hope it serves as an acknowledgement of those who inspire...
Poet Emily Dickinson lived over a century ago (she passed in 1886), but her innovative approach to poetry is still distinct in the 21st century. As former Poetry Foundation president John Barr says in our audio program, The Poetry of Emily Dickinson , "From her private room in the town of...
Charles Waugh. Photo by Donna Barry Charles Waugh. Photo by Donna Barry While it's commonplace to say that art is a universal language, there is at least one artistic field where this doesn't quite hold true, and that is literature. Unlike visual art or dance or music, literature must go through an...
Think back to the last time you wrote something down. Not typed it out but, wrote---with your hands, on a piece of paper, for an extended period of time to complete a thought. Chances are it has been a while. Technology and literature is something we talk a good deal about at the NEA: how readers...
Rope Bridge by Vera Kratochvil In this audio excerpt, we take a brief look at the deceptively simple, yet heartbreaking plot in The Bridge of San Luis Rey . The opening of our Big Read audio guide features actress Marian Seldes, Sister Maureen Fiedler, JD McClatchy, Russell Banks, and the voice of...
W.B. Yeats. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Since we’re just a few days from St. Patrick’s Day, we thought we’d celebrate with a brief look at Ireland’s most famous poet, William Butler Yeats, and his role in the Irish Literary Revival. Although no...
Cover of Housekeeping , courtesy of Picador Eccentricity can often be misinterpreted as mental instability, but so can genius and originality. Take Thelonious Monk for example. Or Andy Warhol. Or Zelda Fitzgerald as discussed in Monday's post. The character of Aunt Sylvie in Marilynne Robinson's...
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (American, 1900-1948), Circus , ca. 1938, oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 24 ¼ inches, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama; Gift of the artist, 1943.5 “Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist and Mrs. Fitzgerald is a novelty." So said writer Ring Lardner after visiting his good...
A 1920 photo of Alice Paul, the 28 year-old powerhouse behind the 1913 Woman Suffrage Parade. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, [reproduction number LC-DIG-ds-00180] One hundred years ago this Sunday, 5,000 women’s...
The Homer Public Library in Homer, Alaska. Photo courtesy of the library Books that are based on real-life events, such as war, are capable of provoking powerful stories from those who suffered through a similar experience. Case in point: Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam novel-in-stories, The Things They...

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