Monday, May 07, 2007

Hometown Hero

Although he has graced New York for many decades, obdurate Illinoisan Richard Peck, late of Decatur and Rogers Park, came home to a hero's welcome at the 25th Zena Sutherland lecture last Friday, garnering the largest audience yet at that event. Peck is a gifted speaker, with a particular talent for making people feel like they agree with him even when they don't. ("I don't agree with a word you said," Virginia Hamilton once said to him, "but I love the way you said it.") While Peck's lecture ranged widely and smoothly over such topics as his family, his writing, the history of YA literature (with special tribute paid to Robert Cormier) and the state of contemporary education, through it all ran a strong thread of respect for teenagers and the challenges they face (poor schooling, indifferent parenting, the tyranny of peers) on the road to adulthood. I liked it. We'll be publishing the lecture in an upcoming issue of the Magazine, so look for it.

Below, Richard Peck with CPL Children's Services Director Bernie Nowakowski:


Rose said...

Richard Peck is one of my writer heroes; I look forward to reading his speech. Thank you, Mr. Sutton, for your blog--I've begun to read it every morning, which is unusual for me.

elizabeth fama said...

It was a skillful speech, delivered with the presence and conviction of a preacher. And he does give you something to think about -- even when you disagree. But I thought the best part of the speech was his description of Zena herself and the part she played in so many writers' careers. He's right that the day is coming when Sutherland lecturers won't have any personal memories of her.

Roger Sutton said...

But passing into legend, of course, has its own rewards!