The Big Read Blog (Archive)

January 12, 2008 El Paso, TX Having run a deodorant along my left jowl yesterday morning before realizing I wasn't shaving, it's probably not surprising that I should find myself in the El Paso airport just now, blogberrying. Luckily, I've started a feature here where I take each Big Read book and...
January 8, 2008 San Francisco, CA "The picture [of small-town Missouri in Tom Sawyer ] will be instructive to those who have fancied the whole Southwest a sort of vast Pike County, and have not conceived of a sober and serious and orderly contrast to the sort of life that has come to represent the...
January 4, 2007 San Francisco, CA Happy New Year from the California desk of the Big Read! I'm newly ensconced here for a few days, drumming up Big Read applications in a few hard-to-reach corners of the country, looking in on the pilot program for The Big Read in Corrections, and hosing down the...
December 28, 2007 Washington, DC My draft of the Tom Sawyer Reader's Guide is due in mid-January, so I've got Twain on the brain. Each of our guides contains a few choice quotations from the author in question. The problem with Twain, naturally, is keeping the number of possible quotables somewhere...
Time this morning to try something new to the blog: its first notes column. Gone the usual carefully developed arguments, the lovingly re-created site visits. In their stead, a grab bag of ideas, observations, three-dot items, IOUs for longer posts, and generally whatever crosses my mind. Serve me...
December 18, 2007 Washington, DC Pretty soon they're going to have to start a special portion of the paper devoted exclusively to alarming news about reading. Can't you just imagine it? Right between BUSINESS DAY, PAGE C1, and SCIENCE TIMES, PAGE D1, please turn to KISS LITERACY GOODBYE!, SPECIAL...
Translation is both the most parasitic form of writing and the purest. It?s writing without storytelling, without plot, or character, or any of the other gifts that only a few lucky fictioneers have it in them to deploy. No, translation is writing at its most elemental linguistic level, with the...
December 7, 2007 Washington, DC Recently, a colleague was in my office and we were talking about our exposure to books as children. I mentioned that even though neither of my parents had attended college (my dad went later in life on the GI Bill), books were highly prized and everywhere in my home...
December 5, 2007 Perry, IA Last night I saw a waterfall of corn. It was almost midnight, and I was driving through cornfields in Iowa. Since it is autumn, the farmers were working late into the night, taking every advantage of the dry weather to harvest the corn. The tractor lights were blazing so...
December 4, 2007 Washington, DC Sometimes, even if the picture won't win any prizes, the subjects are the story. Snapped here are Big Read partners Jane Wood and Henry Fortunato, flanking a first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species . Jane presumably brings the same dynamism to chairing the...

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