Sun, 05/27/2012
Contact Name: 
Christen Jackson
Contact Email: 
Contact Phone: 
573-634-6064 ext. 247

JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri River Regional Library has announced that A Good American has been selected as the 2012 Capital Read, the communitywide reading program which is returning for its seventh consecutive year. Written by Mid-Missouri resident Alex George, the book takes place largely in a small Mid-Missouri town and mentions Jefferson City and other local places.
“We are all very excited about the opportunity to highlight a book by a local writer that takes place in our own backyard,” said Claudia Schoonover, assistant director of public services/collection development. “A Good American is a lovely book that deals with a universal story – our search for home.”
Capital Read is an annual community-wide reading event aimed at connecting people to literature through reading and discussion.
Community-wide reads – called One Read or One Book in some areas – have exploded in popularity in recent years. Usually organized by libraries, they bring members of a community together to read and discuss the same literary work. Discussions usually take place in small groups and sometimes authors participate.
“In the past, the Jefferson City community has been extremely supportive of Capital Read,” said Schoonover. “We hope that having a local author, who has written about our area, will really inspire people to read this book and become involved with Capital Read.”
A Good American begins in 1904, when Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother and go to America. They end up in New Orleans, and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Mo. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.
Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf.
A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors' story, comes to realize he doesn't know his own story at all. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James's family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette's progeny sometimes discover more about themselves than they had bargained for.
“A Good American is a universal story that everyone should feel a link to,” Schoonover said. “The experiences of this family are similar to that of all of our ancestors.”
A variety of events are being planned as part of Capital Reading and will conclude in the fall with the opportunity to hear Alex George discuss his book and read a part of it.