Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Literary notes from Washington, D.C.

Al Gore spoke to a capacity crowd of 1,500 at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University last night. Gore’s appearance was sponsored by Politics & Prose, Washington’s finest independent bookstore, in conjunction with the release of his new book, The Assault on Reason.

Gore proclaimed Washington Post writer Dana Milbank was the “smartest guy in the room.” Milbank reports that Gore “waxed esoteric” about the ancients, “waxed erudite” about the Enlightenment and “waxed informed” about the Information Age.

As for his new book, Gore said, “Were it possible to summarize this book in only 15 minutes, it wouldn’t be the book it is, but I’ll try.” Gore then spoke for 34 minutes.

Writer Michael Ondaatje received prominent play on the front page of the Post’s Style section. Ondaatje said his new book, Divisadero, which, according to the author, features “quite a radical form.”

Post reporter Bob Thompson said, “The new novel began when, as a visiting writer at Stanford, he fell in love with the rugged, rolling hills north of San Francisco. Imagining an ‘odd kind of family’ in that landscape, he says, ‘became the book.’ But Divisadero doesn’t stay in that California landscape, or with that family’s explosive history. A little more than halfway through, the action shifts entirely to France, carried forward by a new set of characters.”

Finally, this morning, the Post reports that First Lady Laura Bush joined actress Emma Roberts to promote summer reading. Roberts, the niece of actress Julia Roberts, stars in forthcoming film Nancy Drew. The two appeared at a Washington school. Bush spokesperson Sally McDonough said Mrs. Bush, a former librarian, “wanted to highlight the importance of summer reading, and brought the actress along to the school because of her work with a group called Drop Everything and Read.”

The two spent about 20 minutes reading from The Secret of the Old Clock, the first book in the Nancy Drew series. “Nancy Drew was a favorite book of mine when I was your age,” Bush told students at the Washington middle school. “So if you like reading about a girl detective, you might this summer go to your library and check out Nancy Drews. And if you’re a really, really fast reader, you could read all 57.”

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