Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon

Today is the beginning of Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-Thon.  Although I have other plans today, I will be reading off and on with everyone and cheering people on when I can.


1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

USA, Washington, D.C.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Finishing up Camelot’s Court by Robert Dallek, and if I finish it I will consider it a successful read-a-thon.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Grapes…and coffee…I love Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I loved my Keeshond like he was a child, but with a little toddler running around, I realize caring for a dog was much easier.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

I like to keep my participation laid back; that’s what I’ve learned over the years.  To just have fun!

Blackout Poem Challenge:

THE Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, known for his love poems and leftist ideals, died 40 years ago this September. One would hope he’d be at rest by now. But on Monday, as classical musicians played a Neruda work set to music by Vicente Bianchi, his remains were exhumed to determine whether he died from poison — instead of prostate cancer, the conventional account.

In recent years, other icons of the Hispanic world have suffered the same fate. In 2011, Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected president-elect who was deposed by a military junta in 1973, was disinterred to verify that he’d fatally shot himself. (The finding — yes — is still disputed.) The late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez ordered in 2010 that the tomb of his idol, Simón Bolívar, be opened to test his theory that the liberator died of poisoning, not tuberculosis. (The theory remains unproved.)

And in 2008, a Spanish judge authorized the unearthing of a mass grave in the southern town of Alfácar to see whether Federico García Lorca, the poet and dramatist who was assassinated by Fascists in 1936, at the outset of the Civil War, was buried there. (The results were inconclusive.)

There is something gothic, but also cathartic, about summoning artists like Neruda, and his close friend García Lorca, back into the realm of the living, making us wonder if death is really the end. A Chilean judge’s decision, in February, to allow an investigation into Neruda’s death, which led to this week’s exhumation, looks like an act of expiation.

Neruda used his pen to denote, to denounce, to decry. He was 69 when the junta took power. By then he had been an embassy attaché, a senator and an ambassador. In 1969, he initially ran for president as a Communist, but later backed Allende’s candidacy. However, passion for political change was only one side of his persona. The other was that of a bon vivant. Many people enjoy life plentifully, but few have been so eloquent about it. The Dionysian sensuality of Neruda’s odes is contagious, joyful and erotic. And also destructive: Neruda’s marriage to Matilde Urrutia, his third wife and the inspiration for “The Captain’s Verses” and “One Hundred Love Sonnets,” unraveled after she learned he was having an affair with her niece.

Neruda died in a clinic in Santiago on Sept. 23, 1973 — 12 days after the American-backed coup that overthrew Allende and brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. Many Chileans have long been skeptical of the official cause of death. In 2011, Neruda’s former driver said the poet told him, on the eve of his death, that he’d been given a harmful injection by a doctor. Conspiracy theorists note that Neruda died in the same hospital where Eduardo Frei Montalva, a politician who had supported the junta before switching sides, died in 1982. A judge ruled in 2009 that Frei had been poisoned.

Could Neruda have suffered a similar fate? Allende had died on Sept. 11, 1973, and another opponent of the junta, the folk singer Víctor Jara, was assassinated on Sept. 16. Finishing off Neruda could have been the junta’s coup de grâce.

Exhuming icons is one way to deal with guilt. Elsewhere in Latin America, the past’s phantoms are resurfacing: in Guatemala, where the former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt is on trial for genocide; in Argentina, whose cities are dotted with memorials to those who were “disappeared” during the “dirty war”; and in Mexico, where a once-pliant media have challenged the former president Felipe Calderón’s handling of the war against drug cartels.

But Neruda holds a special place in this grim look backward. Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian writer and a fellow Nobel laureate, has called him “the most important poet of the 20th century — in any language.”

Neruda left thousands of poems, a handful of which are of such inspired beauty as to justify the very existence of the Spanish language. Adolescents routinely give his “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” to their sweethearts. His ideological verses have been read aloud, often from memory, in one revolution after another, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the embers of the Arab Spring. Some of Neruda’s poems — “I Ask for Silence,” “Walking Around,” “Ode to the Artichoke” — have been rendered into English repeatedly, each version another effort to make him current and vital to a new generation.

What we’ve read so far:

32 pages

32 pages

26 pages

Which hour was most daunting for you?

The 15th hour was brutal for me, that’s when I decided to take a nap. A big mistake because I slept through the rest of readathon.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I think kids books with games in them are so fun and peek-a-boo flaps. They are quick reads for when there are distracting little children around or you just need a quick read.

How many books did you read?

We only read 3 whole books, but I did read about 50 more pages of Camelot’s Court.

What were the names of the books you read?

See above the images.

Which book did you enjoy most?

The little one and I really like the Halloween Forest.

Which did you enjoy least?

None really.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I think if I have as little time as I did this time, I’ll be a cheerleader instead.

I hope everyone had a great read-a-thon!


  1. Well we definitely could use more wo(man) power on the cheerleading front! Thank you for being with us, and I hope we’ll see ya in April! –Andi

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I didn’t get to participate this year but it’s been great reading the recaps. I have never gotten through the whole thing. One day maybe! 🙂

    • I found out about the read-a-thon a day before! I decided to participate at the last minute even though I knew we were going to be busy all weekend! I still haven’t read for a full 24 hours.

  3. Congrats! You read a lot despite the fact that you were so busy. Thanks for coming to Jerry’s birthday bash and for bringing that delicious soup! 🙂

    • I guess you can call that a lot. We were out and about a lot that day, but I thought it was fun to get the little one to participate…but you know here and sitting still these days…its go go go

  4. Beth Hoffman says

    Though I’m not a participant, I love reading all the Read-a- Thon posts! Y’all amaze me!

    • I spent more time with my little one this read-a-thon…so we read some books together, and of course she wanted to read these three more than once!

  5. Ashley LaMar says

    This is my first readathon. Initially I thought, “Ok…read…24 hours!” and I had a huge stack of books and was obsessive. Then, last night, I scrapped that and just decided to wing it. Took a book to the beach this morning to read (we live in Florida) and I have done a few easy challenges. Now I’m taking a break to visit other readers.

    Hope you have fun with the remaining hours!

    • I hope you are loving your first read-a-thon. I did stacks and stacks and was always disappointed with my progress, but I have way more fun keeping it low key

  6. I’m reading on and off too. I was out this morning and had a few quick errands this afternoon plus I can only sit still for so long. I probably spend more time visiting blogs and doing mini-challenges than reading but that’s half the fun.

  7. Hope you’re having a great readathon so far! I agree, it’s best to just keep things laid back and things will go smoothly.