Wednesday, April 28, 2010

KIPP Scribes

I read a variety of blogs each week, and one of my favorites is The Wren's Nest Blog from Atlanta's Joel Chandler Harris House Museum, which I visited last summer (you can read about that here). In February, I saw a call to volunteers on Twitter for a project The Wren's Nest and nearby charter middle school Kipp Strive Academy were teaming up to do.

The gist of it is that writers from the Atlanta area are paired with fifth graders to help him or her write a narrative of a story told to him or her by a family member. It's about several things: teaching interviewing skills, transforming interview notes into a story, preserving family history, and involving the community at seriously, the coolest school I've ever gotten to check out.

Really, it didn't take any time at all for this to be the thing I spend all week looking forward to. This week was my third meeting with my student. He is smart, funny, animated, excited, energetic, and just a fun person to spend some time with. I'm so excited about the story he is working on, and I can't wait to see it in print this fall at the Decatur Book Festival, where the students' stories will be unveiled in a published book.

The Wren's Nest Blog is continuing to talk about this program. You can read their take on it here. And, fellow volunteer Jamie Allen is writing about it on his blog, too. Check it out here and here.

More to come on this, I'm sure!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Anne Frank

I reread Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl this weekend, and then watched PBS' Masterpiece Theater's recently aired film interpretation. This diary is one of the most famous memoirs of the 20th century and possibly my favorite book...EVER.

It means so much more to me now, having just read it for the ninth time 20 years after reading it for the first time. When I read it as an 11 year-old, I was interested in Anne as a girl just a bit older than me. I thought we had some things in common. As I've read the book again a few more times as I've grown older, each time I've known a little more about the state of the world from 1942-45, and the abominable indecencies and injustices put upon the Jews.

Anne wrote her most private thoughts in her diary, and for that reason I find it all the more amazing that Anne remained optimistic about what life would be like for her after the war. That she was able to find joy in anything given her situation is really remarkable.

All of this makes the words of this teenage girl so much more profound, and the book so much more heartbreaking to me each time I read it.

The PBS piece was really well done; I recommend it very much for the human face it put on everyone in hiding, particularly Mrs. Van Daam and Dr. Dussel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Atlanta's OK Cafe

Next week I'll be off on a literary trip that I've been looking forward to for months. In preparation, I've been doing some reading (more to come later on that). This past weekend, I ate at a place in Atlanta that I love, OK Cafe. The restaurant is named for Maycomb's hangout in To Kill a Mockingbird. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the novel's publication in 2000, Harper Lee autographed this picture for Atlanta's OK Cafe that hangs in their lobby.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Carson McCullers and Dixie Carter

I recently read Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and got completely sucked into the book, falling in love with all the quirky characters. This novel is a great example of a Southern Gothic novel, which is a genre that I love. I think what attracts me most to this kind of story is that all the characters are kooky and eccentric. I think every Southerner can conjure up a memory of at least one person from in their past who is like a character in most every Southern Gothic novel. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was certainly that way for me, though I won't reveal any more than that.

Earlier this week Dixie Carter, one of the Southern women who starred in the sitcom "Designing Women," passed away at age 70. I know I use this blog to talk about books and occasional movies, but in this case, I just can't help but see a parallel between characters in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and "Designing Women's" Julia Sugarbaker. If you don't believe me, just watch this clip from an episode. Well said, Julia.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy One Year Blogiversary!

Today marks the end of the first year of this blog. Here's all that's been accomplished in this year:

Reread 5 classic novels
Visited 17 literary locations (including museum exhibits)
Posted 86 times (including this one)
Watched 7 movies based on books
Saw 2 authors speak
Reviewed 29 books
Watched 1 play

Clearly, reporting on what I've read and visiting literary sites is what I enjoy the most. So, there should be a lot more of that coming in year two. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 2, 2010


The 24th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival ended last week. This is an event I'd love to attend one day (or for that matter, just visit New Orleans at any time), but for now I'll have to settle for watching online videos of the Stella Shouting Contest, which is pretty great. Here's the link.

I've finally finished reading a book I mentioned over a month ago, Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family by Gary Pomerantz. It was pretty interesting with lots of good information, but DENSE. It took me a lot longer to read than most other books, but it was worth it. I learned a lot about Atlanta, which is great, since I really didn't know enough before. I'm happy I read it, but also happy to move on to something else. Tomorrow I'll be starting Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which I'm very excited about because I hope to visit her childhood home in Columbus, Georgia, later this month. I'll keep you posted.