Yesterday, in the Chicago Tribune: “American Writers Museum sneak peek: far-reaching, dramatic”; and in The New York Times: “An Everyman Museum to Celebrate American Writers”—the museum is the American Writers Museum. It opens next week. More from the Times:
…Mr. [Malcolm] O’Hagan incorporated a nonprofit dedicated to the project. He soon hired Mr. Anway, founder of the Boston-based firm Amaze Design, who organized brainstorming sessions with writers, publishers, scholars, teachers and booksellers in various cities.
I’m one of the “writers, publishers, scholars” hired by Mr. Anway. I wrote thirty-four author stories, twenty-five for the “85-foot long interactive wall [that] highlights 100 notable writers…” and nine for the Chicago authors room. The Times quoted from one of my texts, about Vladimir Nabokov:
Those who skip Ms. [Maureen] Corrigan’s video commentary on literary experimentalism, for example, may not realize that “Lolita” is more than a novel that “hinges on a road trip — a classic American genre — and riffs on motel and teen culture,” as the brief wall text dedicated to Vladimir Nabokov puts it.
Note the use of dashes—a mark of my prose, for sure.
It was a challenge to write lives of famous authors in 100 – 190 words. What do you choose to say about Melville? About Hemingway? About Cather? I was meanly grateful Flannery O’Conner died when she was 39. Some of my favorites to write were the (slightly) lesser-knowns. Here's my bio for Margaret Wise Brown:
Is “In the great green room,” as famous a first line as “Call me Ishmael”? Quite possibly. Margaret Wise Brown wrote dozens of children's books, including The Runaway Bunny (1942) and Goodnight Moon (1946). Brown’s stories are about the everyday life of children (often represented by animals), written in a subtle—but instantly recognizable—verse that lends itself to being read aloud. Brown’s whimsy extended to the home she refurbished for herself on an island off the coast of Maine; she called it “The Only House,” though it was not.
“Though it was not.” Though it was not! Put that on my placard when you add me to your museum.
[The Times piece included photographs of the museum taken by Whitten Sabbatini; pictured above is the “85-foot long interactive wall” where much of my work appears.]