Monday, September 29, 2008

Snacking on Literature in DC

So I took the Metro to DC this past Saturday to check out the National Book Festival - which, this year, featured Salman Rushdie (talking about his recent Enchantress of Florence), Geraldine Brooks (whose Pulitizer Prize-winning March is currently being read by some of our classmates in Susan Shreve's Writing History class), and Francine Prose (check out the recent Post article). I knew I'd be getting my fill of books at the festival, but what I didn't realize was that I'd be getting a taste of some new authors right at the Metro stop.

Bit o' Lit, a free bi-monthly mini magazine, features excerpts from the books of up-and-coming writers. The issue I picked up (September 8th) featured two non-fiction books and two fiction books - one of which happened to be Porter Shreve's When the White House was Ours. The idea is you get to read books "a bit at a time" in excerpts just long enough to cover your Metro journey - and hopefully, the excerpts catch your interest just enough to make you go out and read the entire book.

It's an endeavor after my own heart - I signed up for Stanford University's Discovering Dickens Community Reading Project way back in the day (2006) in which the university printed off Hard Times on newsprint facsimiles and mailed them to participants for free. The great thing was that Stanford serialized the novel and sent out one section a month, all in an effort to re-create the reading experience during Dickens' time.

Bit O' Lit is not quite the same, but the idea is there. Check it out - I found mine in a one of those newspaper boxes outside the Metro, but they're also available at the B&N on 12th St. As up and coming writers ourselves, we should support the writers forging paths in front of us by reading their work - whether in bits or as a whole.

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