Library, college’s Big Read Miami to highlight Vietnam War novel

The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College (MDC), in collaboration with Miami-Dade Public Library System, begins its month-long “The Big Read” celebration with a host of events centered on the novel The Things They Carried, by award-winning author Tim O’Brien.

The Big Read begins on Mar. 19, 6:30 p.m., at the Miami Beach Regional Library, with an appearance by decorated U.S. Marine turned filmmaker, actor and author, Benjamin Busch. Part of the national Big Read initiative, the series continues through Apr. 19 and will feature lectures, film screenings, a teen essay contest and much more. Free copies of The Things They Carried will be distributed throughout the Big Read series. Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

With more than two million copies in print, The Things They Carried is a classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene. It is a groundbreaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of 43.

Taught everywhere — from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing — it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage, fear and longing.

Following is a list of The Big Read Miami events:

Big Read Kickoff, Tuesday, Mar. 19 — Join in for a very special appearance by author, actor, filmmaker and decorated U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer Benjamin Busch. A star of the HBO series The Wire, Busch has written an unforgettable meditation on life and loss, in his extraordinary book, Dust to Dust: A Memoir. Event starts at 6:30 p.m., Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 22nd Street, Miami Beach.

Keynote lecture by Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, Tuesday, Apr. 19 — Tim O’Brien has been writing to wide critical acclaim since he published the first of his books at age 27. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize, The Things They Carried has been called one of the finest books about the Vietnam War ever written. O’Brien makes a very special appearance in South Florida to discuss and celebrate this novel’s place as a contemporary American classic. Event starts at 7:30 p.m., Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables.

The Big Read Miami 2013 Film Series: Coral Gables Library, 3443 Segovia St, Coral Gables, Mar. 25, Casualties of War film screening is at 6 p.m.

Other events include:

Teen Essay Challenge — Selected Miami Dade County Public School students will answer this essay question: If you were leaving for war tomorrow and could carry only one thing with you, what would be the thing you carry and why?

Grand Prize is free tuition to a future Talented Teen Writers Course at The Center and a meeting with author Tim O’Brien. The winner also will be featured on The Center website. The contest is conducted in partnership with Miami Writes. To participate, contact Nicole Swift at

Send a Book to our Troops: Join Operation Paperback — At each Big Read 2013 event, organizers will collect gently used paperback books to send to veterans and deployed troops overseas through Operation Paperback, an organization that provides books to military and veterans hospitals located within the United States, as well as USO centers at U.S. Airport transit points. The book collection is held in partnership with South Miami High Cobra Readers and the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida.

Veterans Oral History and Art Project —Recordings of veterans’ stories made by MDC students and artwork by Miami artists will be part of an exhibit that will open during The Big Read’s closing week (Apr. 15-19), and be featured in perpetuity at <>.

Book Discussions — Visit or for dates, times, and locations.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with Arts Midwest. It is designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture, bring its transformative power into the lives of its citizens, and encourage communities to come together to read the same book.

For more information about The Big Read, visit or

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