City closes the book on ...on, at least | Westword

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City closes the book on ...on, at least | Westword
5/13/2014
City closes the book on One Book, One Denver -- the adult version, at least | Westword
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City closes the book on One Book, One Denver -the adult version, at least
By Patricia Calhoun Wed., Dec. 4 2013 at 2:09 PM
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A trip across the plains over Thanksgiving reminded me how much I love Kent Haruf's
books -- 1999's Plainsong and its sequel, Eventide, at least. (Benediction, the third in the
sort-of series about the fictional town of Holt, seems almost like a parody.) Haruf, who now
lives in Salida, grew up on the high plains of Colorado, and his words capture the beautiful
starkness of that setting. Consider this from Eventide: "He wanted to think of words that
would make some difference but there were none in any language he knew that were
sufficient to the moment or that would change a single thing."
See also: Sixteen years after his death, no so famous novelist John Williams is finding
his audience
As I was thinking about Haruf's books, I was reminded that none of them had ever been
selected for the One Book, One Denver program, which John Hickenlooper introduced
early in his first term as mayor of Denver as a way to get the city on the same page literally. But Plainsong's teen-age sex scene made it too racy for the first pick,
Hickenlooper's selection committee determined, and instead went with Leif Enger's Peace
Like a River - a small-town yarn about life in rural Minnesota, instead of life in rural
Colorado.
And thinking about that got me wondering what Denver would pick next for a program that
had been serving the literary equivalent of a Happy Meal for close to a decade; the ninth
book, chosen in the fall of 2012 by popular vote, had been Enrique's Journey.
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City closes the book on One Book, One Denver -- the adult version, at least | Westword
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Turns out, there won't be a tenth selection. The One Book, One Denver program has died
out - at least for adults. "The program was successful initially from the standpoint of
promoting a culture of reading and community through shared experience, but
participation has declined throughout the last few years," says Daniel Rowland, spokesman
for Denver Arts & Venues. So instead, the city will focus on a pint-sized version of the
program, which in 2013 had kids reading The Capitol Ghost Mystery by Michelle Barone.
Three juvenile books are now being considered for 2014: Savvy by Ingrid Law, The True
Confessions o f Charlotte Doyle by Avi, and Alvin Ho: Allergic To Girls, School and Other
Scary Things by Lenore Look.
For more adult fare, the city is promoting The Big Read, the National Endowment for the
Arts program started in 2006, which the city also relied on for its reading choice in 2009.
In 2014, the Big Read will be pushing Marilynne Robinson's PEN/Hemingway awardwinning novel, Housekeeping -- but the city won't be in charge of the program in Denver.
Instead, the Lighthouse Writers Workshop will be carrying the torch for the Big Read here
in Denver -- but the city will host the kickoff ceremonies on January 24 at the McNichols
Building.
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