The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Dana Gioia

Caricature of Ursula K. Le Guin by John Sherffius In Ursula K. Le Guin's trailblazing fantasy novel, A Wizard of Earthsea , many lessons are imparted on the acolyte, Ged, about how to live in a world marked by light and dark, good and evil. At one point, the sage Ogion the Silent tells Ged: "But...
Maclovia B. Zamora at B. Ruppe Drugs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Image by Karen Kuehn for New Mexico Magazine A few weeks ago, to coincide with the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Libraries' celebration of Bless Me, Ultima , the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque launched a three-week...
Kay Ryan, U.S. Poet Laureate 2008-2010. Photo by Christina Koci Hernandez, used courtesy of The Library of Congress I just rediscovered some great poetic audio in our digital archives. Hearing the brilliant contemporary poet Kay Ryan read the not-so-contemporary Emily Dickinson was like finding...
An old cover to Henry James's Washington Square , courtesy of Wikimedia According to author Cynthia Ozick , " Washington Square is a novel about imposture, about people who pretend to be what they are not." Take a listen, she'll tell you. Her insight is reinforced by two remarkable Oscar winners,...
Book cover used courtesy of Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin, New York. Though The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is set in a small mill town in the late 1930s, it could have been written today. The ambitious book touches on a wide range of issues and social ills that still plague present-...
Willa Cather's attic room in Red Cloud, Nebraska. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Archives & Special Collections, used by permission of Lucia Woods. When Cather published My √Āntonia in 1918, the book was a major departure from the literary trends of the day. She not only strayed from the urban...
San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge, used courtesy of pdphoto.org Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel, The Maltese Falcon , set a new high mark for detective fiction, to which all future writers of the genre would aspire. A major character besides the incomparable Sam Spade is the city in which the...
Thornton Wilder, courtesy of Yale Collection of of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library The prolific and exuberant Thornton Niven Wilder died on this day 36 years ago. Today, we're paying homage to the man behind American classics such as The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our...
Actress Mary Astor , here in 1941, became famous for her role as Brigid O'Shaughnessy in John Huston's adaptation of The Maltese Falcon . Photo courtesy of Wikimedia "Oh no she din't." If master crime writer Dashiell Hammett were alive today, he might have written that line about the red-headed...
The new USPS Forever stamp featuring Mark Twain. Image by Gregory Manchess Even though summer is basically over, Mark Twain and his ?hymn to American boyhood?--- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ---lives on. Tom Sawyer and his wild adventures remind us just how precious the freedoms of childhood and...