One City One Story

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: 30,000 copies of a short story, free for the taking at libraries and local businesses, to help promote a city-wide reading initiative and book festival.

Boston, you make us so darn proud.

The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face, by Tom Perrotta, was chosen by a panel of judges for the Boston Book Festival’s One City One Story initiative. The idea behind One City One Story was to get the community reading and talking about a single story leading up to the festival on October 16. If you’ve walked into a local library branch or bookstore or coffeeshop in the last couple of weeks, it would’ve been hard not to take notice of the clean, compact packaging of the story.

I’m not here to review the story, though I do highly recommend you read it. I’m writing, rather, to commend the Boston Book Festival and their panel of judges for their choice. Not only are the themes of the story appropriate — if just a tad edgy — for the festival’s audience, but by delivering 30,000 free copies of a short story to the community, the festival is also encouraging the appreciation and discussion of quality American literature. That, to us, is invaluable.

And I’m thinking, why not make One City One Story a reoccurring event? Perhaps a story by a local writer could be published every month and distributed at large for free, with a follow-up discussion at the end of each month at a local bookstore, library, or other venue. The Boston Book Festival could host a final event in October, during which all the stories would be discussed, to culminate a year-long endeavor to encourage the community to partake in the reading of local literature. A wider audience would be reached, a larger group of local writers would be published, and more quality literature would be read. “Yes, please” to all of the above.

Whether or not a year-long One City One Story initiative is realistically sustainable, Mel and I are both happy to see now that good literature and discussion are available to the masses at no charge. Thanks to the Boston Book Festival for this one. We like your style.

For more info:
–> Boston Book Festival
–> One City One Story
–> Download “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face” by Tom Perrotta
–> Now it can be told: Boston to read Perrotta — The Boston Phoenix
–> Person of Interest: Tom Perrotta — Boston Magazine

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