One State, One Book, One Woman
It was inevitable. Chicago, New York, L.A., Seattle, West Palm Beach, and Milwaukee have all gone literary and decided that their citizens would benefit from reading the same book at the same time, so why not the entire state of Texas? Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, an Austin playwright (Afterlives, E Pluribus Unum: Barbara Jordan, One Voice), an irrepressible little dynamo of literary activity, has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work for Texas Writers Month (which is May), and realized recently that Texas Writers Month would be the perfect occasion to get the state in tandem, wordwise. "The truth is," she said the other day, "I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, and they had a thing about the programs in New York and Chicago, and they were talking about how they had unified the different communities. Since we're trying to draw attention to Texas writers, I wanted to do something. A lot of our events for Texas Writers Month, the only people who are there are the writers! And I wanted to involve the readers as well as the writers, because why be a writer if you don't have readers?" So, since she's a Big Picture thinker, she came up with a "one state, one book" idea, though she did confer with the other Texas Writers Month honchos. "We tried to pick something that wouldn't particularly be controversial," she said. Some cities' discussions about which book should be picked have been characterized by fractious disagreements, namely New York. Texas Writers Month organizers wanted "something that would have broad appeal, that would be in the libraries so that people wouldn't necessarily have to go out and buy the book, something that would stimulate conversation in book groups." They've picked Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, and they're asking children to read Old Yeller by Fred Gipson. They're working on orchestrating reading groups at libraries and bookstores in cities across Texas. "The biggest fear we've got this year is that we didn't do it soon enough," Hamilton-Lynne said. "But I thought, we might as well start this year and really focus next year."