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Monday, May 11, 2009

Reading Across Rhode Island May Breakfast


On Saturday I attended the May Breakfast sponsored by Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI) to celebrate the 2009 RARI book, Five Skies. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about you can read all about RARI here and you can read my review of Five Skies here.) This year, since I was fortunate enough to attend the breakfast with 7 other women from my two book clubs, we had a table to ourselves - which was terrific. Ron Carlson, the author of Five Skies, was there and he gave an amazing talk to the crowd of over 400 people. Carlson is a professor of creative writing at UC - Irvine and he is a talented and engaging speaker. He is very funny and he had no trouble keeping the audience's attention. (It didn't hurt that he is very easy on the eyes and the audience was predominately female). And to top it all off, I won two tickets to Trinity in the raffle! But, I digress...

Carlson spoke about the craft of writing, how he gets story ideas and his work as a teacher. But, the thing I found to be the most interesting is that he started his talk by saying that groups like Reading Across Rhode Island and events like the May breakfast, in which groups of people get together to talk about books (what he referred to has "literary meetings"), are the foundation of a civilized society. Wow! That is quite a statement. He talked about how some stories transcend the book in which they are written and actually cross over into our very lives. We can all recall books like this. Books that we can't stop thinking about when we are finished reading them. Books that we can recall exactly where we were when we were reading them. Books we can't wait to pass on to other bookworms. Books that become a part of our very history. And, of course, all books are not created equal. Not all books are worth sitting around discussing. Not all stories transcend the book itself. But when you find one, it is a real gift. A gift that should be shared and treasured. After all, according to Mr. Carlson, doing so is the very foundation of civilization. Mr. Carlson, I couldn't agree more.

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