Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Celebrate The Great Gatsby!

Poet Kim Roberts (and guest blogger, here) shares the exciting details about DC’s “Big Read” of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

We'll be celebrating F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece of American literature, The Great Gatsby, from April 24 through May 24, 2008. Please join us by reading (or re-reading) the book. The program, part of a national initiative spearheaded by the NEA, is designed to revitalize the role of reading for pleasure in American popular culture. Festivities in DC will include: book discussions, films, performances, art deco architecture tours, Charleston dance lessons, storytelling for adults, a student essay competition, an exhibition at the MLK Library, and a reading by area novelists influenced by the book. A full schedule of events can be found here.

There's one part of the festivities I am particularly proud of: I have written a tour called "Jazz Age Stories of the Rich and Scandalous" that leads you through the Dupont and Kalorama neighborhoods. The tour gives a glimpse of the world F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in and chronicled in The Great Gatsby, with stops at great houses of the very rich, a Prohibition speakeasy, houses connected to political scandals such as the Red Scare and Teapot Dome, and much more. (For more information, read my entry on The Big Read DC blog about researching Prohibition and speakeasies in DC.)

You can take the tour on your own, using the downloadable brochure that is available as a PDF file here on the website of the Humanities Council of Washington. The tour takes an hour and a half to two hours if viewing only the exterior of buildings, more if you decide to take museum tours.

I will also be leading two guided tours on Saturday, April 26 and Saturday, May 10. The guided tours start at 10:30 am and last approximately two hours. The tour begins upstairs in the atrium of the Mayflower Hotel at 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW (Farragut North Metro). Please note that the tour route will involve climbing stairs. The tour is limited to 30 persons and advance reservations are required. You can reserve your spot by emailing or by calling (202) 387-8391. Spaces are still available!

And finally, please consider joining us for the Big Read Kick-Off event on April 24 at 6:00 pm at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Use the D Street entrance; the party's in the Atrium. We'll have a Mayoral Proclamation, live jazz, flapper fashions, a reading of an excerpt of The Great Gatsby by actor Clayton LeBouef ("Homicide: Life on the Street" and "The Wire") and a hip-hop version of the story presented by DC Writers Corps. Admission is free.

For more information about the program, and to see a complete schedule of events, go here.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.