Talk About Literature in Kansas

Print TALK Schedule

Winter days getting to you? If so, there’s an upcoming library tradition that can get you past the bleak cold days we’ve yet to face. Whether you’ve participated in the TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) series before, or you’re just curious about the monthly events, you are cordially invited to check out books in the series which are being held at the library’s Information Desk. Then you can attend as many or as few of the scheduled discussions as you please. Like so many other programs at the library, these events are free for the public.

The TALK series has been a regular part of library events for some years now. Because of the generosity of the Manhattan Library Association (with the TALK program chaired by Heather Lansdowne) and the Kansas Humanities Council, participants are able to read and discuss four different novels each year. Those two nonprofit organizations supply the books and arrange for guest discussion leaders for the series.

This year’s series is entitled “Community: The Way We Live.” Selected novels will highlight different values and beliefs as they relate to our idea of community. Books will offer differing views of small towns and urban groups. We will note lifelong friendships, as well as random connections with strangers. We will realize the many different ways in which ordinary people function as parts of diverse communities.

Who leads the discussions? Humanities Council scholars who have a specific interest in the readings. On January 30th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Groesbeck Room of the library, for example, Ann Birney, an independent scholar of American Studies and the co-director of “Ride into History,” will moderate a discussion of “Bailey’s Café” by Gloria Naylor. Touted as a mix of equal parts fortitude and suffering, the book is a rich slice of everyday life in a mediocre diner. The diner setting allows regular attendees the chance to offer glimpses of both their hardships and triumphs.

The novel for the February 27th discussion, to be held in the library’s lower level atrium at 7:00 p.m., is the perennial favorite, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Flagg. Who can resist? This award-winning novel was made into an equally appealing film starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates. Marilyn Klaus, a lecturer with Religious Studies and African and American Studies at the University of Kansas, is the evening’s leader.

“The Milagro Beanfield War” by John Nichols is scheduled for discussion on March 27th in the Groesbeck Room at 7:00 p.m. Yet another book made into a splendid film, Nichols’ story follows the travails of a small village threatened by developers. The evening’s discussion leader will be Nicolas Stump, a teacher of history and English at the Barstow School in Kansas City.

The final discussion, offered on April 24th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Groesbeck Room, will concern “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson. Both a bestseller and an award-winner, this novel concerns the 1950s, at a time when the memory of Japanese internment camps foments distrust. The evening’s discussion leader, Nancy Hope, is the associate director for the Kansas Consortium for Teaching about Asia.

Interested in learning more about the events? Please come to the library’s Information Desk where you can select particular novels, or call (785) 776-4741 for more details. You may also wish to visit the library’s homepage at, where you can view the full schedule and a related video about the series. You’re bound to find a wonderful story in this season’s offerings that you may have overlooked.

For more information about the Kansas Humanities Council, visit , and if you are interested in the Manhattan Library Association, take a look at

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