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The Big Read hits the road

August 29, 2008 |  1:28 pm


For two weeks in September, The Big Read's red hybrid will be traversing the country, fostering a literary life wherever it may. Actually, it's not the car that'll be fostering literature (although since it says "The Big Read" in bright letters on the side, it is promoting reading) -- it'll be National Endowment for the Arts Director of Literature David Kipen, the tall guy behind the wheel.

Kipen has posted a map of his itinerary so far. He's leaving Washington, D.C., making his way south and west to New Orleans, crisscrossing Texas, coming out to see the Pacific, then heading back east via Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin. In each of his scheduled stops, he'll be joining in on events celebrating local Big Read projects, in which communities read one book together.

The funny thing is, each city seems to have picked an atypical book. In San Francisco, they're reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," (set in New York), while Winston-Salem, N.C., is reading John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" (set in California). Kipen will learn about dog sledding in Colorado, where they're reading "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London (set in Canada's Yukon territory).

Kipen has asked for hints: where to eat, landmarks to see, generous and/or literary resting places or stops along the way.  We think, while he's in San Francisco, he should head across the bay to Oakland and visit Jack London Square (it's closer than Canada). While there, he should take some pictures to share with the folks in Colorado.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by George Kelly via Flickr