Chautauqua Honors Immortal Bird: One of Nine Literary Selections for 2013
Immortal Bird has been chosen as one of nine literary selections for 2013 by the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC), America’s oldest book club, founded in 1878.
Each summer CSLC chooses nine titles of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua to present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers. Previous authors include Michael Ontdaajte, Joyce Carol Oates, Geraldine Brooks, and Salman Rushdie.
I am very honored to be selected and will speak at the Hall of Philosophy on Thursday August 22 at 3:30 pm.
I will be a writer in residence at Chautauqua for the entire week, from August 18-24.
The Chautauqua Institution is a 139-year-old, not-for-profit, arts and educational organization situated on 750 beautiful acres in western New York. Its nine-week summer season of events attracts adults who travel from around the U.S. and Canada for an immersion in learning and the arts. It offers one of the oldest and most prestigious lecture and discussion platforms in American history, having begun as an approach to self-learning for people who could not attend college. The CLSC selections comprise an annual “reading list” that is recommended for lifelong learners.
Immortal Bird has been chosen for Week Nine because the theme of that week is exploring health care reform and innovation and Chautauqua likes to encourage a relationship between the book of the week and the morning lecture. Here is the entry from CSLC:
Week Nine — Aug. 18–24
Health Care: Reform and Innovation
With the 2012 election behind us and as we begin to feel the effects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, what is the state and the future of health care in the United States? This week, Chautauqua will invite successful reformers and practitioners to share their insights. What innovations in science, technology, policy and procedure will contribute to a future where all Americans have access to affordable, effective health care?
Immortal Bird deals with the modern health care system as seen through the eyes of one family and has generated significant debate in the medical community. Several universities have considered adopting the book for medical school courses with an emphasis on ethics and the importance of good communication. Immortal Bird has also been featured as an example of medical error in several venues, including the recent Patient Safety Science and Technology Summit keynoted by Bill Clinton and co-sponsored by Mothers Against Medical Errors. As peviously noted, the lawsuit we filed against New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center almost 7 years ago remains unresolved.
Sherra Bacock, director of the Department of Education and Youth Services at Chautauqua who oversees CSLC, said that each book selected this year also has a Shakespearean theme and a play connected to it. For Immortal Bird, she chose The Tempest because Damon had a serious illness and the book describes “the harbors this family went through to help the young man survive,” Babcock said.
“It’s a very sad book, but it’s also a very happy book, because his son was a wonderful, different kind of child, and because he had health problems his entire life, they treasured what they could do.”
Readers of Immortal Bird may also recall a very significant scene that references The Tempest. After I take my family to see the film Finding Neverland–which shows that J.M Barrie created this magical place where no one ever dies or grows old to console his mother for the loss of her beloved son, his older brother–I feel an arrow pierce my heart and the next morning I discuss with Damon switching to The Tempest as the new model for the novel I am writing.