Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thornton Wilder and the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention

Having seen two really wonderful productions of both of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize winning plays, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943), I already considered myself quite the fan. But Wilder is not only a deservedly celebrated playwright; his repertoire of novels may even rival his plays in critical esteem. I just started his Pulitzer Prize winning (really, how many can one guy have?) novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), and have been hooked since the first, much lauded sentence. "On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below," Wilder succinctly begins. A precursor to contemporary disaster epics, the story follows a witness's subsequent efforts to connect the victims in hindsight, in his vain attempt to prove divine intervention's hand rather than chance's.
Reading his best-loved novel has made me even more excited for the Thornton Wilder Society event we're hosting at National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. HarperCollins will provide the opportunity for conference-goers to meet experts from the Thornton Wilder Society including Tappan Wilder (Thornton's nephew and literary executor), Jackson R. Bryer (Society president), and Lincoln Konkle (Society executive director). We're even giving away free copies of Our Town to the first 100 people in preparation of its 75th anniversary in 2013. If you'll be there on November 17, you can come to Booth 521 to meet the experts between 10am and 12pm, or come to the Premiere Ballroom to hear the experts' panel, Teaching Thornton Wilder to 21st Century Students, from 2:45pm to 4pm.

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