TODAY IN LITERATURE – Key West’s Writers in Residence

Ah, Key West. Much more than a winter getaway destination, Key West combines a free-spirited ambiance with magnificent coral reefs, a unique historic legacy with an enduring creative sensibility — especially literary.

For three-quarters of a century, Key West has been a haven and an inspiration for some of America’s most influential writers. While the late Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Robert Frost no longer stroll the streets, visitors can view a wealth of literary landmarks and sites that recall their presence and showcase the island’s importance in the literary world.

Into this rich environment, we ourselves will stroll, but this time with a twist. Normally, we discuss books that are set in our destination. In Key West, we have seized the opportunity to piggyback on the venerable Key West Literary Seminar. We have chosen a variation on their theme for our own. (Although technically sold out, you may be able to snag a spot by contacting Executive Director, Miles Frieden at and mentioning Classical Pursuits.)

What has come to be known as speculative fiction will be the focus of the KWLC. Classical Pursuits’ trip will be examining Dystopias, Utopias and Imagined Places. What better way to spend a January week than shining light on the tension between human imagination and reality as expressed in literature and film, on a warm, sunny, gorgeous island, a thin sliver of land separating the sea and the sky. We will have the opportunity to hear Margaret Atwood give a public lecture before we launch into our discussions of her dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Just to whet your appetite further, I offer you the following piece that was published in Travel + Leisure in December 2009. I hope you enjoy it. Remember the deadline to book is November 15, 2012.

Travel+Leisure explores a storied literary culture that is alive and thriving.
From December 2009 By Tom Austin

Block for block, Key West has to be the smartest town in America. Despite the slap of vulgarity that is the circa-1829 Duval Street, which attracts an eternal honky-tonk herd of cruise-ship gawkers, wayward sorority girls, and tipsy conventioneers, the community has always embraced the subtler realm of Ralph Ellison, John Dos Passos, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Ann Beattie. Today’s literary locals cling to the everyday wonders of the town: browsing at Voltaire Books; picnics at Nancy’s Secret Garden, a tropical wonderland in Old Town created by artist Nancy Forrester; bike rides past landmarks like the former home of novelist James L. Herlihy (Midnight Cowboy), now owned by writer Brian Antoni. In the evenings, it’s theater at the Waterfront Playhouse, an art film at the nonprofit Tropic Cinema (founded, in part, by writer Jean Carper and George Cooper, a retired law professor and author), or a show at the improbably first-rate Red Barn Theatre on Duval Street, where local boy Richard Wilbur once helped out with Molière translations. Read more...



One Comment

  1. Sigh…and oh, my! Wonderful!

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