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Reading Series Goes 'On the Road'
The latest Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University is taking participants on literary explorations with the theme “Journey Stories.” The series continues at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 with Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” The book is based on Kerouac’s travel journals of trips across the United States and to Mexico. Harbour Winn, director of OCU’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature, said the Beat Generation classic is one of the ultimate examples of an American personal journey story with a following that hasn’t dwindled since it hit the literary scene in the 1950s. “Stories of journeys are found in the myths, religions, literature and history of every culture,” Winn said. “Some journey stories explain the origin of a people as they emerge from the underground to live on the Earth. Physical journeys are often taken to facilitate a spiritual journey inward, as in the vision quests of many cultures, or to symbolize a transition in status. Underlying all of these stories is the conception of life as a journey. This particular book gives insight into the author’s fascination with the need to travel, not so much for the destination, but for the travel experience itself.” The book discussion series opened with Homer’s “The Odyssey,” which is considered the grandfather of all journey stories in the Western literary tradition. The series will continue with different books on alternating Tuesdays through March 9. The sessions begin at 7 p.m. in OCU’s Walker Center room 151. During each session, a humanities scholar makes a presentation in the context of the book’s theme. Small group discussions follow before a brief wrap-up with all of the participants. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at hwinn@okcu.edu or visiting the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207. Books, services and other materials for the series are provided by Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma, a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.okcu.edu/film-lit/ for more information. Other Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma sessions: • Feb. 9 — John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie” Winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, Steinbeck set out on his trip “to rediscover this monster land” with only his French poodle Charley. As he drives the interstates and the country roads, he reflects on the American character and the loneliness he finds everywhere. • Feb. 23 — Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” A father and a son’s summer motorcycle trip from the Twin Cities to San Francisco becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey or, as the subtitle indicates, an “Inquiry into Values.” Celebrating the immediacy of their experience, they focus more on traveling than arriving anywhere. • March 9 — Yann Martel’s “The Life of Pi” Winner of the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2002, Martel’s international bestseller is told from the point of view of a young man on the cusp of adulthood. Shipwrecked, he spends 227 days adrift on the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. With some parallels to “The Odyssey,” the narrator faces a test of not only survival, but also the nature of truth itself.