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Second Annual Eau Claire Big Read
to Feature 'The Maltese Falcon'

RELEASED: April 2, 2008

The Eau Claire Big Read logoEAU CLAIRE — The kick-off event for the second annual Eau Claire Big Read will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 5, at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

The event begins the monthlong community reading and discussion of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon." Eau Claire city manager Mike Huggins and Julie Rivett, Hammett's granddaughter, will welcome participants and introduce the work. The public and media are invited to attend this free event and receive their complimentary copies of "The Maltese Falcon."

In addition to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, this year the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation has made a substantial donation to help purchase copies of the book to distribute to the public.

The Big Read is a nationwide initiative of the NEA, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest, to encourage reading for all ages. The event asks community members to read and discuss their city's chosen book for a month. Eau Claire is one of only three cities in Wisconsin selected to receive a grant and participate this year.

"The Maltese Falcon" was chosen by a committee of event organizers from a list of 16 books. The book is a mystery, a thriller, a dark, dry comedy and a love story. Independent detective Samuel Spade is hired by a mysterious woman to help find her sister. The same night, his partner and a thug are killed. Suddenly, Spade's innocence is questioned. To prove his innocence, Spade risks danger and death. "The Maltese Falcon" has been said to have perfected the American private-eye genre.

Many events will be held throughout April to supplement and encourage reading.

An exhibit of Hammett memorabilia and artifacts related to "The Maltese Falcon" will open at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire. The exhibit, which includes rare photos, correspondence, first editions and pop culture curiosities, will run through Friday, April 25. The museum's hours and admission information are online at www.cvmuseum.com/hours.html.

Also occurring multiple times throughout the month will be presentations by "The Maltese Falcon" Theatre Troupe, created by the UW-Eau Claire English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and the English Festival. Join this group as they act out scenes from the book on April 7, 10, 15, 22 and 24 at various times and locations. Check the Eau Claire Big Read Web site for more information.

Numerous book discussions on varying topics also will be held during April. Book discussions are a chance for readers to pose their questions about the text to fellow readers. The first discussion will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. More discussions will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at the Augusta Public Library and Thursday, April 1, at the Fall Creek Public Library. At 7 p.m. Monday, April 21, Borders Books, Music, Movies and Caf in Eau Claire and the Altoona Public Library will each host a discussion, while a third will run at the same time in the Birchwood Room of the Davies Center at UW-Eau Claire. A final discussion group will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

UW-Eau Claire English department faculty member Traci Thomas-Card, co-coordinator of this year's Eau Claire Big Read with UW-Eau Claire associate professor and librarian Christopher Cox, will present an overview of the film noir genre from 6:30- 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

There will be two book slams, the first at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at the Acoustic Café, 505 S. Barstow St., and the second at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at The Nucleus Café,405 Water St. During a book slam, audience members share stories of their favorite books and read passages from them.

"The Maltese Falcon" Film Festival I will be held from 7-10 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. Two movie adaptations of the book are slotted for that showing. The first will be director Roy Del Ruth's "The Maltese Falcon" from 1931, which closely follows the book's original storyline. After a 10-minute intermission, the 1936 comedy murder mystery "Satan Met a Lady," starring Bette Davis, will be shown.

"The Maltese Falcon" Film Festival II will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. The screening will start with the award-winning 1941 "The Maltese Falcon" starring Humphrey Bogart. Following will be a half-hour documentary, "'The Maltese Falcon': One Magnificent Bird," about the making and appreciation of the film. Following each screening, John Stoneberg, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library assistant director and media librarian, will lead a discussion comparing the film versions to the novel, and a free classic movie poster will be awarded each night.

The Big Read will wrap up at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26, with a grand finale, "Let's Talk About the Black Bird," at the DeLong Middle School auditorium. Richard Layman, a renowned Dashiell Hammett biographer and scholar, and Julie Rivett, Hammett's granddaughter, will lead a discussion of Hammett's life, writing and legacy.

In addition to the NEA, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Arts Midwest, The Eau Claire Big Read is supported by UW-Eau Claire, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, the Chippewa Valley Museum, the Eau Claire Area School District, Volume One, and WEAU TV-13.

Donations to support future Big Read events in Eau Claire may be made through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Gifts can be made via check (made out to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation) or online with a credit card and should be designated for The Eau Claire Big Read. Directions for making a gift can be found on the UW-Eau Claire Foundation Web site.

For more information about The Big Read, refer to the local Web site, the national Web site or the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library Web site. For further questions, send e-mail to bigread@uwec.edu.

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LK/NW

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