Sunday, September 11, 2005

From "Edith Wharton and the War on Terror" by Garrison Keillor
(Submitted by EWS members)

. . .

There is no fighting these boondoggles and politicians know it. The stuff gets passed and signed into law and taxpayer groups fire off a barrage of press releases and a week later it's old news. The sensible thing is to fight for your own boondoggle.

I belong to an enormous special-interest group that, unlike Alaskans or hobby pilots, has never exercised much clout, and that is the English-major community. For us, the equivalent of the Gravina Island bridge is the public library equipped with leather sofas and an espresso bar and librarians who are trained in pressure-point massage. Greek columns would be nice, and a pair of stone lions, and a rare book collection and a three-story lobby with marble floors so your footsteps echo as if you were in an Edith Wharton novel. And a statue of Minerva.

I imagine that a super-library of that caliber might cost $223 million if you add in the books, the banks of computers with high-speed Internet connections, the movie theater, the Children's Room, the Steam Room, the Nap Room, the Hobnob Room where English majors can gather for a libation, the underground parking garage, and the kindly reference librarian with the bun, the faint moustache on the upper lip, the navy-blue knit dress, the sensible shoes, and the glasses on a chain around her neck. Those ladies have become rare and do not come cheap.

We English majors need a mouthpiece in Congress of the caliber of Rep. Don Young of Alaska. And we need to promote public libraries as a tool in the war against terror.

How many readers of Edith Wharton have engaged in terroristic acts? I challenge you to name one. Therefore, the reading of Edith Wharton is a proven deterrent to terror. Do we need to wait until our cities lie in smoking ruins before we wake up to the fact that a first-class public library is a vital link in national defense?

Which side is your congressman on? If we English majors would make our voices heard and flood Congress with angry sonnets, we would get a major library bill passed. I hope that Minnesota will get the first $223 million library, but if Ketchikan wants one too, fine.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

From Jonathan Bank of the Mint Theater Company:

Monday, October 17th at 7:30
Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the publication of
Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth

Join us for a reading of the Edith Wharton/Clyde Fitch dramatization of Wharton’s novel, as adapted by Jonathan Bank.

Edith Wharton joined with “the playwright of the hour in America” Clyde Fitch to dramatize her first great success. The result played on Broadway for only two weeks in 1906—but the Mint production in 1998 was a great success. Artistic Director Jonathan Bank revised the original text using material from the novel.

Attend the reading only or plan to have dinner before the show with adapter/director Jonathan Bank and hear the story of how Wharton and Clyde Fitch were brought together in the first place and learn about the fascinating changes Wharton made to her original story and why.

Tickets for the reading only: $25
Tickets for dinner (location TBA), discussion and reading: $85

All proceeds to benefit Mint Theater Company
311 West 43rd St, 3rd floor
NY, NY 10036

Box office: 212-315-0231
Or visit our website: