2012-05-11 / Front Page

Pulitzer-winning author to headline Graves Library event

By Adam Chabot
Staff Writer


Graves Memorial Library will host Pulitzer Prize-winning historical nonfiction writer David McCullough in a fund-raising event June 14 at the Kennebunk River Club Casino. The discussion is titled “An Evening with David McCullough” and tickets are $50 and there’s a limit of two per person as seating is very limited. (Courtesy photo) Graves Memorial Library will host Pulitzer Prize-winning historical nonfiction writer David McCullough in a fund-raising event June 14 at the Kennebunk River Club Casino. The discussion is titled “An Evening with David McCullough” and tickets are $50 and there’s a limit of two per person as seating is very limited. (Courtesy photo) Widely-acclaimed historical nonfiction writer David McCullough will speak at the Kennebunk River Club Casino on Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport on June 14 as part of a special fund-raising event for the Louis T. Graves Memorial Library.

“An Evening with David McCullough” will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a catered reception and tickets for the event are selling quickly.

Library officials said they are thrilled to have the opportunity to host a writer with such worldwide acclaim.

McCullough’s discussion will focus on his most recent book titled, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.” He plans to discuss how many Americans in the 19th century were intellectually impacted by the city of Paris during that time period.

M.L. Norton, a trustee for the Graves Memorial Library and a co-chair of the event, said the process involved in bringing McCullough to Kennebunkport began approximately one year ago and that all of the hard work that went into making his appearance possible was well worth it.

“We’re most excited, I think, about the fact that the patrons of the Graves Library are so thrilled about it,” Norton said. “To have McCullough (visiting) is just very exciting.”

McCullough is a two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning author, a recipient of a National Book Award and of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest award any United States citizen can receive, among many other accolades and awards.

“We have managed to have (the event) on Flag Day, June 14, and we think that’s really fitting for the preeminent author of Americana and the great moments of America,” Norton said.

McCullough focuses his work on various moments of American history and is able to both write and speak in a way that makes people proud to be an American, Norton said.

Norton said she believes the main thing about putting on an event such as this was not only raising funds for the library, but raising awareness about what exactly the library cares about.

“We were trying very, very hard to think of everything that we could do to make it not only an enjoyable evening, but an evening that everybody will always remember,” Norton said.

“McCullough’s event couldn’t have happened at a better time,” said Library Director Mary Lou Boucouvalas.

“Everything has come together so well because (The library) is coming up on our 200th year for our building and a 100 years for the library,” Boucouvalas said.

She also said Abbott Graves and Louis Norton – the artists from which the library derives its name and whose work is featured in the library – had studied in Paris during the time period of the “The Greater Journey.”

Boucouvalas also said one reason she believes McCullough is so widely recognized is because he is able to write about certain American time periods or historical figures and make them interesting and readable for the average reader.

“You think about some of the history books you had in school and you just want to throw them out,” Boucouvalas said. “(McCullough’s books) are the kind of stuff that is going to make you learn about someone and make you want to learn about more people and more events.”

Norton, the library trustee, agreed with Boucouvalas and said she “kept getting so excited to be an American again,” while listening to some of McCullough’s audiobooks.

In addition to McCullough’s discussion, the library is selling raffle tickets for a custom-made bookcase containing signed copies of McCullough’s books.

“It’s custom made by Huston and Company, and was donated, as everything has been,” said Ben Stephens, a library trustee. “There will be a signed copy of each book and audiotape in the case.”

The bookcase was designed as a centennial bookcase for the library and is estimated to be worth approximately $3,000. Tickets for the bookcase are $25 each or five tickets for $100, and can be purchased at the library or at H.B. Provisions in Kennebunk. The bookcase is on display at Biddeford Savings Bank in Kennebunkport.

Norton credits the library’s Pasco lecture series for providing the momentum to bring in visiting writers who have received great acclaim. Recent Pasco lecture series writers have included Richard Russo, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Empire Falls,” and Andre Dubus III, a fiction writer whose work has been nominated for a National Book Award.

The next Pasco lecture series author will be children’s writer Matt Tavares, author of “Zachary’s Ball” a children’s picture book that won an Oppenheim Gold Seal Award, among other awards, who will speak on May 20 at 2 p.m. at the Graves Library.

Norton, Boucouvalas and Stephens also credited the support of event sponsors, including Biddeford Savings Bank; Huston and Company; Joseph Kenneally; DMC; Kennebunk Beach Realty; Kennebunk Savings Bank; Kitchen Chicks Catering; and Pack Maynard Realty.

Tickets for “An Evening with David McCullough” are on sale for $50, with a maximum of two tickets per person. Advance tickets go on sale May 14, at 9 a.m., at the Graves Memorial Library.

Staff Writer Adam Chabot can be reached at 282-4337 ext. 233.

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