In 2006 Ann Patchett , celebrated author of the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel Bel Canto, unwittingly found herself at the center of a campus and community controversy in Clemson, South Carolina, when Clemson University selected Patchett's memoir Truth & Beauty as its required summer reading book for its incoming freshman class. Patchett's vocal detractors argued that much of the book's content was morally objectionable.
"In the face of provocative television news segments, an inflammatory full-page ad in the Greenville News, and an outpouring of letters from angry parents and alumni calling for the cancellation of the author’s scheduled appearance on Clemson’s campus, Patchett decided to speak to the Clemson class of ’06 anyway--even though that meant accepting protection from a bodyguard. On stage in Littlejohn Coliseum, she spoke of the right to read and the importance of drawing one’s own conclusions. She made note of all the great works of literature that had, at one point or another, been similarly criticized as morally unsuitable, and she wondered aloud what purpose higher education served if not to acquaint oneself with the complex, real world."
The preceding is excerpted from an article published last month in the Atlantic Monthly, which includes a lengthy interview with Patchett. You can check out the entire thing here , including a video clip of her speech at Clemson.
Patchett will be in Philadelphia at the Central Library's Montgomery Auditorium this fall on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 8:00 p.m., discussing her forthcoming novel Run . Tickets for this event will be on sale beginning Monday, September 10 at 10:00 a.m. by calling (800) 595-4TIX or by visiting Tix.com . Individual tickets for general admission are $14; student admission is $7 with current ID; and simulcast seats are $6. (Note that simulcast seating will be available only at those events where general admission tickets have sold out.)