By James Beaty
Something about sitting around the campfire in the evening and having some grub adds a certain ambiance to discussion of a classic Western novel such as “True Grit.”
That seemed to sum up the feelings of many of those participating in the latest chapter of the McAlester Public Library’s Big Read on Thursday night.
Dr. Richmond Adams, who teaches English composition and literature at Eastern Oklahoma State College, spoke on “True Grit in the Western Genre.”
Adams also covered Western archetypes, such as the hero, usually a loner, who makes everything right and restores order out of chaos.
In his discussion, he touched on everything from the films of the acclaimed director John Ford, to how today’s superheroes could be considered an extension of the Western hero.
It’s all part of The Big Read made possible by a grant to the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma from the National Endowment of the Arts.
“It’s to encourage people to read for pleasure and enlightenment,” said MPL Assistant Librarian Kathy McGilberry.
The SPLSO focused on Charles Portis’ classic novel “True Grit” for The Big Read program, with some other books included as well.
Both MPL head Librarian Chris Sauro and McGilberry said The Big Read has been going remarkably well.
“People are engaged and interested in the book,” McGilberry said. “That’s the whole purpose of the program, to get people to read.”
Other presentations remaining on the book discussion schedule, with refreshments to be served with each event, are:
• Monday — Mother Stephanie Swinnea presents Vengeance is Mattie’s; Ethical Issues in “True Grit” at 6 p.m. in the library’s conference room. Refreshments will be provided,
• Tuesday — Dr. Bill Corbert presents Outlaws and Law Enforcement in the Indian Territory at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s Whiteacre Room. Refreshments provided.
• Friday — Carolyn Clifton, of the Oklahoma State University Extension Center, presents Corn Dodgers and Hard Tack: Cooking in Territorial Times, at high noon, with a free lunch served. At 2 p.m., Nathan Forest hosts a new group for adults, Steampunk, with those attending encouraged to come in wild West dress.
• Oct. 28 — Dr. Doug Watson presents “Where’s LaBoeuf? The Forgotten Lawman and His Texas Rangers” at 6:30 p.m. This presentation, on a Monday night, is set around the campfire in the lot north of the library.
• Oct. 29 — Dr. Carol Humphrey presents “Women with True Grit: Mattie Ross and the Women of Territorial Times” at 6:30 p.m. This program, on a Tuesday night, is also a campfire presentation.
• Oct. 30 — MPL Teen Librarian Erin Austin and the Teen Book Club discuss “True Grit,, Young Readers Edition” in this program, set on a Wednesday.
• Nov. 2 — Dr. Lewis Parkhill presents “The Big Roundup — True Grit,” set for 6 p.m., a Saturday night, in the main pavilion at Chadick Park, with plans to move the program to the library if necessary because of the weather.
• Nov. 8 — Author Glenda Carlile, in character as Mattie Ross, presents “More Women of Territorial Times at 1 p.m. in the library’s Whiteacre Room. The Bookie Club program is set on a Friday.
Also, two additional special programs are scheduled:
• Nov. 7 — Tom Wing, western history expert, presents “Hands Red with Blood: Judge Isaac C. Parker and the Enforcement of Justice in Indian Territory,” at 6:30 p.m., a Tuesday night, in the Whiteacre Room at the library.
• Nov. 12 — Omar Reed, of the Fort Gibson Historic Site, presents “Reflections of Bass Reeves” at 6:30 p.m., a Tuesday night, in the mezzanine meeting room at the library. Reed, who will be in character as Reeves, will give as specially-created historic presentation about Reeves’ time in McAlester and Pittsburg County.
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.