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November 13, 2012

Library system’s Big Read writing contest announced

NORMAN — Fans of the PLS Big Read 2013 selected novel, “Old School” by Tobais Wolff, will have an opportunity to pit their writing skills against one another in a contest inspired by the plot of this literary work.

The Pioneer Library System is conducting a short story writing contest inspired by and modeled on the plot of the novel as part of The Big Read, presented with underwriting from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

In the coming-of age novel, students at an elite boarding school in 1962 compete for the honor of meeting visiting authors by entering a writing contest. The winning entry earns its author a meeting and a private critique with the guest.

In the spirit of the novel’s competition, local student authors can submit original short stories and compete to meet Wolff when he visits for The Big Read finale in late April.

“This is the third time that we have sponsored a writing contest as part of our annual Big Read,” said Gary Kramer, public information officer for the PLS. “We had a song-writing contest in 2011 for ‘The Things They Carried’ by Tim O’Brien, and last year we had an essay writing contest to go along with our promotion of Amy Tan’s ‘The Joy Luck Club.’

“This year, we are taking our cue from the novel ‘Old School’ in which young writers compete in the genre and style of visiting authors, original poetry for visiting poets, original essays for a visiting essayist. Since our visiting author is known for his short stories, we are sponsoring a short story competition.”

Wolff’s first collection of short stories, “In the Garden of North American Martyrs,” was met with critical acclaim. His 1984 novella, “The Barracks Thief,” was awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1985. His 1989 memoir “This Boy’s Life” was later turned into a movie starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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