Blogs at Amazon

Nonfiction

10 Books David Foster Wallace Loved

Dfw

D.T. Max's biography of the late author David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, was released in paperback in August. To celebrate, D.T. sent along a diverse list of books Wallace enjoyed.


D.T. Max:

David Foster Wallace once made a surprising list of his ten favorite books.

Was Wallace joking? Partly. Alligator was a childhood favorite, as his sister remembers but Fear of Flying? And as a mature adult and author the novels he loved tended more to high art. In published essays and even more in letters to friends and editors, he declared his real passions. For instance, in 1990 he wrote the novelist David Markson: "...I’ve read and reread every word of Pynchon, Barth, Delllo, Puig, Cortazar, and Jean Rhys — my own little Olympus."

Here are ten of DFW's particular favorites:

New Chapters for "The Billionaire and the Mechanic"

The Billionaire and the Mechanic Whether or not you follow boating as a sport, you've likely caught the news that history was made this week when the America's Cup was awarded to American billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA. The 19-day match (the longest in the competition's 162 years) ended in a 9-8 win against New Zealand, marking a stunning comeback for Oracle, who won 8 straight races to overcome a 1-8 score.

Why are we book people so excited about a sports story?

In May this year, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Julian Guthrie published The Billionaire and the Mechanic, the story of how Ellison found an unlikely partner in car mechanic Norbert Bajurin and together they prepared for exactly this moment in time.

The timing was perfect; the book came out just in time for this year's competition. But, of course, now there's so much more of the story to tell... and Guthrie intends to tell it. The paperback and Kindle editions of The Billionaire and the Mechanic, due out the end of November, will include two new chapters covering this extraordinary development.

The paperback edition is already available to preorder here. And, in the spirit of the moment, we've rounded up three more books that boating fans might enjoy.

Grand Ambition
by G. Bruce KnectGrand Ambition

 

Sailing on the Edge
by Bob Fischer
Sailing on the Edge
It's Simply...SAILING
by Cali Gilbert
Sailing on the Edge

Some People Will Get Mad: An Interview with Richard Dawkins

Dawkins_WonderThroughout his storied scientific career, Richard Dawkins has never backed down from big or controversial ideas. Whether he's revolutionizing the discussion over genetics and natural selection (as he did with The Selfish Gene, his landmark 1976 book that also expanded the conversation well beyond the scientific community) or making provocative statements in the debate between atheism and religion, Dawkins has never backed down from a good fight, either. (Check The God Delusion and its more than 2,000 customer reviews for a taste of that fracas.)

With his latest release, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, Dawkins pulls back the curtain on his upbringing, eductaion, and the events that led him to a career as a groundbreaking geneticist, as well as behind-the-scenes looks at his early research techniques and ideas. He stopped by our room at Book Expo America in May to talk about the memoir (available September 24), as well as other topics--some big, some controversial, but all definitely Dawkins. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.

Jon Foro: Why did you choose to write a memoir at this point of your career?

Richard Dawkins: I’m getting on a bit, and my mother’s getting on, too—she’s 96—so it was a good opportunity to tap her memories about my childhood. Quite a bit of it is about my childhood. I hope it’s funny, I hope it’s entertaining. And I’ve long wanted to do something like this.

A: You adopted computers early on in your research. Are there affinities between thinking about natural selection and programming computers? It struck me, when you were speaking about hierarchical organization of behavior [a sort of modular set of prioritized actions that governs animal behavior], that it’s like object-oriented programming.

RD: Yes, very much so. And I think that programming computers—quite apart from being useful—does actually help you to think. But when you’re thinking about how animals work, how the brain works ... brains must in some sense be programmed, and probably using the same kind of software tricks. But of course there’s no programmer, it’s done by natural selection and genes--the genes that program development of brains. But in some sense, it’s helpful to think about brains as being computers. But of a very different kind, and having software of a very different kind.

JF: Except that computers can be said to be completely deterministic, whereas humans have the opportunity to override….

RD: [laughs] Do you think?

JF: [laughs nervously] Well, I don’t know. I’m asking you.

RD: Yes, I think philosophically speaking, we’re probably all deterministic. But humans and animals have such complexity that we have the illusion of having a kind of free will that we can override it.

Continue reading "Some People Will Get Mad: An Interview with Richard Dawkins" »

Picking Tips for Aspiring Mushroom Hunters

The Mushroom HuntersAfter Jon Foro highlighted Langdon Cook's The Mushroom Hunters--which he called "a collection of delightful stories of a mycelial underground filled with eccentrics and obsessives who at first seem strange (and maybe even unsettling), but grow more charming by the page"--in our Big Fall Books Preview, our whole editorial team got an unusual invitation: Langdon was headed out to the south end of the Olympic Peninsula, hunting the first chanterelles of the season with two of the pro pickers profiled in his book. They'd be shadowed by a crew shooting a new PBS show called Food Forward. Would we like to come? This was like being asked if we wanted to step into the book for a day, to meet the characters and experience the hunt--an opportunity too rare to miss.

Meeting Doug and Jeff in real life was surreal and awesome. They were exactly as Lang had described them--maybe a little more charming due to the presence of a lady--and almost immediately they felt like friends. Once we got to the patch, Langdon and the guys got us picking on one side of the hill, while they filmed take after take for the intrepid PBS crew.

It was an epic day, culminating with Lang giving Doug and Jeff their own copies of the book. We felt privileged to be a part of it. A few days later, Doug sent Lang this review: "On commercial fishing boats, you're working all the time so your free time is precious. I've tossed a lot of books aside without finishing. This is a book I would have finished on the boat." Now that's high praise.

Here's what we learned from our day of picking with the pros.

What to Bring

Even when you've relished many a mushroom on the plate, it can feel risky to pick in the wild without a guide. If you can't go with seasoned pickers, get a pack-sized fungi guide for your region (in the Pacific Northwest, All That the Rain Promises and More has long been a go-to source) and note the tell-tale signs of any lookalikes you might encounter.

You'll need a knife--but a sharp one might not be the right choice. Jon has a small collection of folding pocket knives that uses for camping and backpacking, and he chose his sharpest. He would have been better off with a cheap steak knife, like Lang, Doug, and Jeff had. While his blade squeaked and struggled against the stems, they made quick, clean cuts. Also consider a sheath for your belt. It’s easy to imagine how stumbling on wet, bushy slopes with a naked blade could lead to a bad outcome.

You’ll need picking buckets--the 5-gallon kind, with a lid to keep out the rain. Lang had been vague, so Mari bought cute little ones. Luckily, they had an extra bucket to share, and Doug wiped it out well, giving us our first lesson: start clean.

And don't forget to pack a lunch.

What to Wear

Doug with One Basket of His BountyExpect to get (as Lang says) “walking-through-a-car-wash wet,” especially if you're heading into the epicenter of North America’s chanterelle harvest, on the fringe of the Olympic rainforest. We drove down from Seattle through a hope-we’re-still-on-the-road downpour, and even under the dense evergreen canopy, the deluge comes through in thick drips.

Lang and Mari were decked in head-to-toe in rain gear—and very comfortable for it. But the pros don’t prioritize comfort. Doug and Jeff showed up in jeans, cotton, and flannel, clothing apparently designed to soak up water and suck the heat from your flesh. Doug explained: Mushrooming, especially in the rain, is a dirty business. He uses his cotton hoodie to wipe the dirt and needles from mushroom caps (not to mention hands and knives) before he drops them in his bucket. Try that with a slick rain shell, and you'll be wanting cotton. Just bring a change of clothes for later.

Lace up some burly boots. One of our biggest surprises--even after reading about the wild terrain--was how consciously we had to focus on finding and keeping our footing. The second-growth Douglas fir forests favored by chanterelles have steep, uneven ridges and folds, and the spongy duff is so thick in places, you feel like your foot just punched through a snowdrift. Rain-slicked logs and blackberry vines can trip and roll you. Many of the professional pickers—including Doug—are former loggers, to whom navigating rough woods is second nature; others are Southeast Asian refugees who survived in jungles with far greater hazards (like armed militants) before turning their foraging skills to our fungi. Whatever your experience level, you’re going to need footwear with solid tread. Just take care not to stomp the chanties.

How to Get There

Lobster Mushroom Fruiting Through the Moss

Whether you’re following a tip or your own instincts for good fungi habitat, know you’ll have to go far beyond the main roads; the easy patches get trampled and picked out. If you’re going to make any kind of haul (for profit or fun), you’re going to have to go adventuring. One of the reasons so many loggers made the transition to mushroom picking is that they knew the prime spots through years of working the forests—and many of those patches are accessible only through logging roads and other ad hoc access points. Expect to drive through mud, around stumps, and over fallen trees and strapping saplings.

When you can’t drive any further without fear of rupturing a vital vehicular organ, wade into the woods. If you’re in the right kind of place, any footpath you stumble across will have been made by a mushroom hunter, or some other woodland animal. But once you start picking, the trail is largely irrelevant--just do your best to avoid trampling plants and fungi.

This is when it pays to know your trees and the mushrooms who love them. Each mushroom species has their preferred growing environments, and those often include symbiotic relationships with certain trees. Much of the Olympic Peninsula has been logged (and re-logged), and the inheritors of much of the land are Douglas firs—the perfect growing hosts for chanterelles. So while you're dog-earring your mushroom guidebook, bone up on your trees, too. Know your pines from your spruce, and what might be hiding underneath their respective needles.

How to Pick

Chanterelles Drying Off at HomeRecalling the buy-stand scenes in the book, we already knew that the pros pick clean. Dirt on a mushroom stays on a mushroom, especially in the gills. That puts you on the bad side of potential buyers, who are already professionally grumpy from their competitive, low-margin market. The first trick to picking clean is picking dry—rain will cause dirt and forest detritus to stick to your 'shrooms. If you can’t pick dry (and mushroom season often follows rain), try to lift each chanty out of the duff with minimal disturbance, and get it in the bucket under your lid.

You'll also want to pick fast. Honestly, it’s incredible that anyone could do this for a living. In the two hours or so we spent hunting chanties, we probably picked three pounds between us. At the $2 per pound we’d get at a buying station, we were better off eating them. Given the time and gas it takes to get to premium patches, a professional mushroom picker is already staring at a deficit. But in the same afternoon, Doug and Jeff managed to pick 60 pounds, even while being stopped and directed by the camera crew. Uninhibited, they might have pulled 200 pounds or more, which is both amazing and barely adequate, financially.

Another conundrum is picking for size vs. quality. While larger “flowers” obviously weigh more, the smaller “buttons” will fetch more at market. The guys seemed mildly impressed by the volume of buttons in our bucket, and we imagined that Jeremy Faber, founder of Foraged & Found Edibles and one of the primary characters in The Mushroom Hunters, would have graded them favorably.

When you get home, dry any damp fungi on newspaper or paper towels overnight, and whatever doesn’t fall off will be more easily brushed away.

What to Cook

Lang's Creamy Chanterelle PastaIf you’re not trying to pick for a living, here’s the real reason to go: mushrooms you pick yourself taste more delicious than anything you’ll find at the store. Chanterelles will last for a week in the fridge, but the aroma—a piney apricot—is most intoxicating that first night, so if you have everything ready to make Langdon Cook’s Creamy Chanterelle Pasta, it will likely be one of your life's great meals.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

4 slices (1/4 pound) thick, quality bacon, diced (or the equivalent of pancetta)

1 or 2 shallots, finely chopped

1 pound shaped pasta

1 pound fresh chanterelles (or the equivalent frozen)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pint heavy cream (or less)

4 ounces garden peas, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, with more for the table

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and the diced bacon. Do not drain fat.

As bacon begins to crisp, add shallots and cook until tender, a few minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Add chanterelles to skillet and cook several minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have released their water. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and half the cream. Place mixing bowl in warm oven. Slowly add remaining cream to skillet and simmer, continuing to stir occasionally while pasta cooks. When pasta is nearly done, add peas to chanterelle sauce.

Remove pasta from heat, drain, and pour into warmed mixing bowl. Mix in sauce along with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

If you’re worried about all that cream and butter, open an extra bottle of red wine. Serves 4.

Langdon Cook writes about the fascinating characters who live at the intersection of food and nature. He's the author of Fat of the Land and The Mushroom Hunters, an Amazon Best Book of the Month pick. Follow him at his blog, Fat of the Land.

Graphic Novel Friday: LGBT in Comics

Since 1997 (although their efforts date back to the late 1980s), the Lambda Literary Foundation “nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBT literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility and encourage development of emerging writers.” Their scope expanded last week with the following good news for comics fans:

"For the first time ever, the Lambda Literary Awards will honor LGBT Graphic Novels in their own category in keeping with the explosion of titles, and talent, that have enriched LGBT literature for years. The new LGBT Graphic Novels category is defined as “any work –fiction or nonfiction– that uses a combination of words and sequential art to convey a narrative and is published in book form (as distinguished from periodical comic books). Open to any genre or topic this category includes graphic novels, graphic memoirs and comic anthologies.”

While we wait for the award winners to be announced in spring of 2014, here is a list of our favorite graphic novels that have LGBT themes and/or characters. It’s by no means comprehensive, and we’re hoping Omni readers will add their favorites to the comments!

  • Love and Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics): Ongoing for over 30 years, the rich world created by an artistic band of brothers is still ahead of its time, involving LGBT characters and issues without pandering or overt “special messages.” These are life stories, told as life unfolds—with humor, heartbreak, and perseverance.  (See also the recent and very cool Covers collection and our reading guide to the series.)
  • Dykes to Watch Out for by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): Here is another long-running literary comics staple, this time focusing on a predominantly lesbian cast that ages and grows as the stories publish.
  • Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III (DC Comics): DC certainly made headlines when it announced the first openly lesbian character in the Bat-family, but Rucka and Williams transformed her into more than a costumed hero; she’s imbued with true character, full of pride, mistakes, and—yes—heroics.
  • Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse (Vertigo): Set in the early 1960s and in the American South, protagonist Toland Polk maneuvers his sexuality in a tumultuous time period, set against civil rights, racism, activism, and coming-out culture.
  • Wandering Son by Shimura Takako and Matt Thorn (Fantagraphics): This beautiful literary manga follows the lives of two fifth graders, Shuichi Nitori Yoshino Takatsuki, as they both question their gender identities in the wide-eyed and often cruel period of adolescence.

Continue reading "Graphic Novel Friday: LGBT in Comics" »

Amazon Asks: Delia Ephron on Books, Mantras, and the Lure of Pastries

It's not easy to be funny, sad, smart and a little loopy all at once, but novelist/screenwriter Delia Ephron makes it seem so in her very personal collection of essays, Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog.

Here, with characteristic wit, she answers some of our favorite questions.


Ephron What's the elevator pitch for your book?

DE: A memoir of all my major food groups: sister, mother, husband, dog. And girlfriends. A lot about that too.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

DE: Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz; This Town by Mark Leibovich

Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?

DE: This is such a hard question. Anne of Green Gables By L.M. Montgomery, The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, almost everything by E.B. White.

Important book you never read?

DE: Crime and Punishment

Book that changed your life?

DE: Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must be More to Life by Maurice Sendak

What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

DE: I wish I could sing. I so cannot. As for superpower: I wish I could eat a million pastries and not gain weight. I wish I were PASTRY WOMAN.

What are you obsessed with now?

DE: "Spiral," a French TV series on Netflix

Ephron

What are you stressed about now?

DE: My book being published.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

DE: I don’t have a gigantic attachment to anything these days that isn’t human. Is a dog a possession? As in "dog owner"? If so, then Honey.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

DE: "Only do what you can do."

The worst?

DE: "Take the L.I.E., it’s faster."

Author crush - who's your current author crush?

DE: Kate Atkinson

Pen Envy - Book you wish you'd written?

DE: Since "only do what you can do" is my mantra, I am free of pen envy.

What's the last dream you remember?

DE: You have to read my book to find out. :)

What's your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

DE: Bakeries. (See superpower) Fortunately I’m afflicted with something called Discardia (the tendency to throw things away after a few bites). Otherwise I would be someone who had to be removed from her house by a crane.

Weekend Flashback: J.D. Salinger, Seamus Heaney, Stephen King, Helen Fielding, Dr. Martin Luther King, Marisha Pessl, and more

Because the week can get hectic... Here's what you might have missed recently on Omni.

SalingerSara Nelson spoke with biographer Shane Salerno about chasing the mysterious J.D. Salinger.

"I read what had been written about Salinger and I was troubled by how little was written by people who directly knew Salinger. So the same stories were repeated over and over again. It wasn't like the [Salinger] family said "Here's the closet, and good luck with your book." It was like a detective story: I spent years researching and calling people and one thing led to another." Read More

 

 

HeanyNeal Thompson remembered Irish Poet Seamus Heaney

"Heaney was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism, and edited several anthologies. Widely regarded as the most important Irish poet since fellow Nobel-laureate W.B. Yeats, the Nobel Prize committee cited Heaney's 'works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.'" Read More

 

 

PesslRobin A. Rothman explored Character Comebacks as Stephen King, Helen Fielding, John Grisham and Roddy Doyle prepare to publish new books.

"In the next few months, four authors will reunite us with four vastly different fictional characters ... old friends we haven’t seen for years. You might remember them as a kid coming to terms with his supernatural powers, a single gal infatuated with the idea of love, a controversy-courting lawyer trying to do the right thing, and a working class music fanatic grasping at success." Read More

 

 

MLKSeira Wilson presented a guest essay from Kadir Nelson about illustrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

"The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I HAVE A DREAM speech is a powerful occasion for me--every time I listen to the speech, it stops me in my tracks. I can remember the first time I heard it. I was in the 5th grade and my class assignment was to memorize and deliver the speech." Read More

 

 

PesslNeal Thompson got to know author Marisha Pessl and her debut's followup Night Film a little better. 

"Pessl spent a lot of time building the detailed world of Cordova, his family, his films, his oeuvre, and his legacy. And she wanted the details of that world feel real. So she watched and studied the works of Kubrick, Roman Polanski, and other psychological thriller directors, as well as horror film director Dario Argento." Read More

 

 

 

MLKSeira Wilson presented an author to author interview between Leonard S. Marcus and Brian Selznick discussing Randolph Caldecott, namesake of the Caldecott medal.

"I first began to understand what an innovator Caldecott was when I read Maurice Sendak’s essay collection, Caldecott & Co.:Notes on Books & Pictures, in which he talks about how much he learned from him about bringing drawings to life on the page." Read More

 

 

 

SalingerRobin A. Rothman got geeky with David Ewalt, author of Of Dice and Men -- the history of Dungeons & Dragons.

"I wrote this book for a mainstream audience. It always bothered me that D&D has a somewhat dodgy reputation, and that so many people have heard of it, but have no idea what the game is actually like. So I set out to explain D&D to the outsiders -- I want them to see what they’re missing, and to understand why those of us who play the game are so devoted to it." Read More

 

 

GNFAlex Carr recapped "What I Read Over Summer Vacation" for Graphic Novel Friday.

"Regular Graphic Novel Friday readers might be aware of my annual summer trip into the Canadian wilderness, where I unplug at a family cabin and read as many comics as I can. This year the weather was especially uncooperative, which made for fine morning, noon, and night reading. Upon my return, a nutritional detox was necessary but I read an especially healthy batch of books, including..." Read More

Graphic Novel Friday: What I Read Over Summer Vacation

Regular Graphic Novel Friday readers might be aware of my annual summer trip into the Canadian wilderness, where I unplug at a family cabin and read as many comics as I can. This year the weather was especially uncooperative, which made for fine morning, noon, and night reading. Upon my return, a nutritional detox was necessary but I read an especially healthy batch of books, including:

  • Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Like everyone, I wondered if Vaughan and Staples could possibly top their Vol. 1 efforts (which we selected as one of our Top 10 Best of the Year picks in 2012), and like just about everyone, I was so happy to see the indie duo succeed. There is more charm, fantasy, action, science fiction, romance, and grotesquely nude giants in this volume than any comic on the planet. It’s the best ongoing comic that I read, and I gobbled it up before anything else this summer.

  • Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust and Kim Thompson: Being one of the late Thompson’s final translation efforts makes this a must-read—plus, that title. Graphic memoirist Ulli Lust recounts her 1984 journey across Italy, which is nowhere as idyllic as it sounds. Lust is a broke, defiant punk at the time, and the aggressive sexuality she endures is shocking. She travels without passport, money, or GPS, and it’s an adventure that makes me glad I have all three.

Continue reading "Graphic Novel Friday: What I Read Over Summer Vacation" »

Shane Salerno Talks About Chasing the Elusive J.D. Salinger

Salinger

Millions know J.D. Salinger's work -- after all, his 50+-year-old Catcher in the Rye still regularly appears on bestsellers lists and is the topic of countless teenage discussions in and out of the classroom. But it is his personal life that has always been more than a little mysterious.

A supposed recluse -- Salinger "disappeared" to a small town in New Hampshire at the height of his fame -- he never published after 1965. And while there were sightings of and occasional sound bites from him -- not to mention several biographies, tell-alls and who knows how many blogs -- only bits and pieces of his life have been revealed.

In his brand new movie and book, Salinger, screenwriter Shane Salerno and author David Shields pulled all those bits, and many others, together into a fascinating oral history that even those who wouldn't know a Franny from a Zooey will love. Salerno spoke with me about how and why he took on this 9+ year project.

 

Salinger Dog
J.D. Salinger in a never-before-seen photo with his dog, Benny.
Credit: Paul Fitzgerald/The Story Factory

 

Sara Nelson: Are you one of those Salinger nuts, obsessed since childhood with everything about him?

Shane Salerno: My mom always talked about Salinger when I was growing up in Washington, DC and San Diego. We always shared a great love of books, and do to this day. But the thing about Salinger, she would say, is that it is half about the work and half about the mystique. I mean, he wouldn't allow himself to be photographed for TIME magazine! It was just all very interesting... and then when I started to read the work, I was taken with Catcher in the Rye, and fell head first for the Glass family [characters from Franny and Zooey]. So, I was a passionate fan, but knew very little about his life.

Then when I started to find out about his life... when I found out that J.D. Salinger landed [as a soldier] on D-Day, it blew my mind. When I found out that the love of J.D. Salinger's life dumped him for Charlie Chaplin on her eighteenth birthday (or shortly thereafter), it blew my mind. I had to make this movie and write this book. They had me at hello. To show you how naïve I was, I thought this project would take six months and cost $300,000. It cost more than $2 million and consumed nine and a half years of my life. I really got hooked.

SN: There has been a lot of material floating around, in books and elsewhere, about Salinger's life: there are several biographies, many articles; his daughter Margaret wrote a book, his one-time girlfriend Joyce Maynard has written about him, etc. But you managed to pull together all the pieces and add some new ones. How and why did people who'd never spoken talk to you?

Continue reading "Shane Salerno Talks About Chasing the Elusive J.D. Salinger" »

Kadir Nelson on Illustrating Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech

IhaveAdream260Kadir Nelson is known for his incredibly beautiful children's book illustrations, including the 2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, I Have a Dream.  Today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s groundbreaking "I Have a Dream" speech and Nelson shares his thoughts on what it means to him and how that influenced his experience illustrating I Have a Dream, a gorgeous picture book that includes an audio CD of Dr. King's complete speech, as it was delivered on August 28, 1963.

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I HAVE A DREAM speech is a powerful occasion for me--every time I listen to the speech, it stops me in my tracks. I can remember the first time I heard it. I was in the 5th grade and my class assignment was to memorize and deliver the speech. And as I stood before my class the following morning, Dr. King’s words poured out of me.  As an unexpected side effect of speaking his powerful words, I somehow felt stronger, more confident, and very proud.

Over the years, I have created hundreds of paintings and illustrated books about a multitude of themes, and with each story I have made it a point to show the strength, love, and light that dwells within every character.

As I set about the great task of illustrating Dr. King’s marvelous words, I felt weighted with the responsibility of getting it right.

Before I began painting I listened to Dr. King’s speeches, I poured over books, hundreds of photographs, and I watched documentaries. I even traveled to our nation’s capital to further enrich my appreciation of Dr. King’s experience.

As I walked along the water’s edge all the way up the stairway of the Lincoln Memorial to the spot where Dr. King spoke, I looked out over the landscape and imagined what Dr. King saw as he stood there almost fifty years ago, and took it all in.  I felt privileged and humbled by my great task.

How could I illustrate Dr. King’s powerful words? I decided to use a progression of realistic and straightforward images to describe the setting and mood of the day of the speech, while also setting the stage for the jump to the images of Dr. King’s dream. And as matter of contrast, the images that describe Dr. King’s dream are more conceptual. As the speech progresses and the dream becomes clearer, both dream and reality merge with a fuller and more colorful palette.

The result is I HAVE A DREAM a celebration of Dr. King’s magnificent words that continue to move Americans from all walks of life to share his dream. It is a privilege to share it with you and I hope that the experience children will gain from reading Dr. King’s powerful words will make them feel stronger, more confident, and inspire readers of every age to contribute in their own way to Dr. King’s dream for America. --Kadir Nelson

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

April 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30