The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Into the Fire

May 18, 2009
Chicago, IL

Just a tweet-length IOU of a post today from Chicago, where I'll shortly don fireman's garb to celebrate Columbia College's Big Read of Fahrenheit 451. The ingenuity on display here even since my arrival 20 minutes ago is really formidable, with the "I Wanna Write Like Ray" Typewriter Olympics two weeks ago just one highlight among many.

And now, barely time to work in a tour of the college library before this afternoon's parade. I thought driving Rosie the Big Read Mobile two weeks ago in St. Joseph, Missouri's reading-themed Apple Blossom Parade was cool, but walking alongside larger-than-life puppets (bringing to life the mechanical hound from Fahrenheit 451, the children and Mr. Dark from Something Wicked This Way Comes, the female martian Ylle from The Martian Chronicles, and the central characters from The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and The Illustrated Man) is a reader's dream straight out of Woody Allen's great story "The Kugelmass Episode."

To walk into a book -- a treat for me, but par for the course in Chicago's Fahrenheit Read. It's the opposite of the novel: Instead of burned books living on in readers' heads, the readers enter the world of the book and cavort with the characters. Somebody asked me yesterday why an Eastern-educated Westerner like me keeps coming back to the Midwest every chance I get. Days like today are the answer...

Photo by Bonnie Sebby/Columbia College Chicago