Attending the recent program featuring Thomas Maltman, author of this year’s All Iowa Reads book Little Wolves, I was reminded once again of the power of story. Mr. Maltman spoke very eloquently about how fiction writing brings people closer together through a shared experience. He believes that books and stories build empathy, something the world needs more of.
I am on the committee that selects the All Iowa Reads book every year, and our number one criteria is that we have a good story that Iowans can talk about. Maltman’s talk reinforced to me that our instinct to choose good stories above all else is the right one. These stories give us an opportunity to talk about emotional truths that are universal to the human experience.
Many of the titles we have chosen for AIR over the years are what some people describe as “dark.” I can’t disagree, but they also seemed like the most discussable. Maltman helped me understand why that is true. He said that we need good monster stories to know who we are, to ask the question, “Where does the darkness come from and how do we fight it?” He shared a story about his two oldest daughters writing a story one summer and they would work on the plot and then go act it out in the back yard. Of course, he explained, he and his wife were killed off in the first chapter. Once they were “orphaned,” they could be the heroes of their own story.
It was great program. If you missed it, watch for the replay on the Library Channel (Mediacom Channel 10). Other books recommended by Maltman include:
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
- Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Hope you can read a lot of stories this summer!