Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gone with the Wind: 75 Years Old

NPR posted an article featuring Pat Conroy's preface for a new edition of Gone with the Wind, published to commemorate 75 years:

My exposure to Gone with the Wind was not as expansive as Conroy's, but it's been no less special to me. I was in 6th grade at Pompano Beach Middle in Pompano Beach, Florida, 1995-1996. I loved the library there because it felt cloistered from the rest of the school. It seemed to vociferously reject the thunder and noise of students' voices simply by the vast silence it contained. But most importantly, its shelves were always inviting. Whatever you found on the shelves would gladly invite you in. If you didn't like what you had, then that book's neighbors would always offer up what they had.

I remember most fondly a yellow-colored edition of Gone with the Wind that had the title in that famous font, and Tara shown below it. Years later, I looked for that edition, because I loved the heft of it, all that promise within its pages, promises that continue to be delivered flawlessly today. The epic scope, the drama, the traits of each character so vividly revealed, and the Civil War rendered so personal through Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. In 6th grade, I could have all this? School was always made better because of that kind of offering.

A few months ago, I went searching for that particular edition. I found it on, but a July 2007 trade paperback edition from Scribner attracted me more because it had a preface by Pat Conroy. I had just read extensively about Pat Conroy's early life with Gone with the Wind through his mother because it had been included in his book My Reading Life. And even though my fond memories lie with that edition from 6th grade, I much preferred an edition essentially blessed by Pat Conroy.

Now Scribner has the 75th anniversary edition out, and thankfully, that NPR article has Conroy's new preface, so I don't have to buy it again. I wouldn't want to. I want to make a new history with this edition. It has the heft, it has the promise. And it has me, at 27. That's how it should be.

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