Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington: 'It fed my entire reading life'

My goal, as soon as I was introduced to my public library was to read every single book they had about horses. I come from a relatively small town, so I was actually able to meet that goal.

And then my mother took me to the city library in Rochester, New York, and walked into that building which was the size of a city block and I was completely enchanted. I wasn't overwhelmed, thinking, "Oh no, I'll never meet my goal," I thought, "This is fantastic You'll never ever ever get to the end of all the books there are to read." So it was great fun.

It was a big deal to get a hardcover book as a gift when I was a kid and we each got one hardcover book as a gift every Christmas. So the library was where you went every week to get five, six, seven, eight, nine books to bring home. It didn't just foster my reading, it created and fed my entire reading life. And as an adult and as a playwright, I've use libraries, which are the most incredible resource, to do all research for most of my plays and musicals.

When my daughter was little, we would go every week just like I did as a child and now I use it as my resource center for all of those work that I do both in terms of wanting to stay abreast of other authors who I'm following, and in terms of turning to them for all the help I need in my research needs when I'm doing something based on history.

[Favorite librarian?] Oh God, yes I do. Oh God, I have a couple, of course. I would have to name Linda Tar at the Gloucester Public Library and Cindy, whose last name I can't remember. They have just been an incredible resource for me and so generous with their time and their expertise.

[On budget cuts] I think it's the craziest, craziest of all possible budget cuts during a recession when the library becomes an even more important resourceful for anyone who does not have a computer in their home, who is trying to search for a job. I really feel that libraries are the center of our cultural and civic life and this is not the time to be pulling away from those wonderful ideals.

[On censorship] I'm really surprised that that's still... I shouldn't be... I'm really surprised that that still happens and goes on. I think it generally, or I hope, it continues to backfire for those who are trying to ban books. Because it only, as a kid, if ever I was not allowed to read a book, of course that's exactly what I wanted to read. I have memories of reading "The Catcher in the Rye" when I was too young to understand it... with a flashlight.

So I don't think it's a smart thing and I think that... I think we live in a free country so I don't understand it.

"Alice Bliss" is a coming of age story about a fifteen year old girl whose father is in the reserves and deploys to Iraq. And it's a classic story of a girl growing up, but at the same time it tells the story of the war from the point of view of those who are left behind and the children at home and how they're coping with being without very important member of their family.

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Book Title: 

Alice Bliss

Library Name: 

Rochester, New York