Participants in this year’s Daniel Boone Regional Library One Read program will experience both the real feel of small-town Louisiana and fantastical situations as they read along with MO Walsh’s novel “The Big Door Prize.”
Living up to its celebratory name, the book was chosen by library patrons as this year’s One Read — the 21st in the program’s history — outpacing fellow finalist “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride by a fortuitous 21 votes, the library system announced Tuesday.
Each year, DBRL encourages as many mid-Missourians as possible to read the chosen title. Its staff and a task force of community partners organize events around the book’s themes, filling September with panel discussions, an art exhibit, author talk and more.
“This year’s selection opens up some topics we haven’t explored in a One Read book before, like gratitude, teen mental health and identifying one’s personal potential,” One Read co-chair Lauren Williams said in a news release.
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The book’s central concept places a serious fork in the road before residents in the town of Deerfield. A machine resembling a photo booth takes up space inside the local grocery store, promising to use the DNA of anyone who enters to forecast their “life’s potential,” according to the publisher’s description.
With new, possibly improved futures in mind, Deerfield residents try to navigate what they should do next.
“As with Deerfield’s inhabitants, The Big Door Prize makes no qualms about showing off far-out — and far-fetched — qualities that stem from concocting fantasies around oneself and separate from reality,” Michel Sabbagh wrote last year for the Southern Review of Books . “At the same time, the novel never loses sight of the human element.”
“The Big Door Prize” is Walsh’s second novel, following 2015’s “My Sunshine Away” and a 2010 story collection, “The Prospect of Magic.” A Baton Rouge, Louisiana native who now teaches at the University of New Orleans, he is no stranger to his setting him, holding degrees from three Southeastern Conference schools: Louisiana State University as well as the Universities of Tennessee and Mississippi.
In December, filming began on an adaptation of “The Big Door Prize” which is set to run as an Apple TV+ series.
Last year’s One Read was “Furious Hours” by Casey Cep, a nonfiction title which combined journalistic rigor and breathless novelistic writing to examine a murder trial which shaped the later years of literary icon Harper Lee.
Other past One Reads include “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles, David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “The Ruins of Us” by Keija Parssinen and Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed.”
For more information on this year’s One Read, and the program’s history, visit https://oneread.dbrl.org/.
Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at email@example.com or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.