Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2007 Issue

Connecting with the Mind's Eye: Adventures in the Audio World

Wash

As we consider what truly makes a good leader, we may wish to take a closer look at the life and work of our first President.


Another book that we discussed during the program was The Bad Habits of Little Boys by poet Jim Hayes. This is a humorous collection of twisty Irish humor I think of as almost Gorey-esque. While we were putting this book together, I spoke to the author on a regular basis from Ireland, and really got a kick out of his telephone calls. So it seemed only logical one day when I suggested that he record a copy of the book so that we could add a CD to it. His voice made the poetry come alive and his introductions to each poem were hilarious.

The success of that CD has gotten me thinking about other books that we've published. We can add CDs to them -- not only literal readings of the books themselves, but recordings of additional material which add a new dimension to the text. We can also add audio files to book listings on our own website, which we are finally building. The CDs are themselves a saleable product.

Lucy and I enjoyed our foray into radio broadcasting so much that we offered to do another program in February for Washington's birthday. Here's the proposition we made to WCAI:

"Even when we've had a great education, as Lucy and I have, neither one of us was ever given anything to read by George Washington. We've been exposed, of course, to the event-driven curriculum of dates and battles, but never given his writing to read.

"Washington in fact was a wonderful writer -- passionate, spiritual, concerned about everything, from the hygiene and behavior of his men to the diplomatic relationship of the emerging country with France. He was compassionate, brilliant, beloved. We thought it might be interesting to WCAI's listeners to have a discussion about Washington, perhaps around his birthday, and then to have available recommended reading available through the library system.

"At a time when the country is clearly struggling with its moral compass and the place of religion within the political fabric, and as we consider what truly makes a good leader, we may wish to take a closer look at the life and work of our first President."

We plan to spend time with primary sources -- Washington's actual words from his writings, and then post a bibliography of source material that is available on the Internet and at local libraries. I like the idea of using multi-media and then leveraging, if you will, exposure on one medium with additional exposure in another.

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