An Open Book

Will everyone in Boulder please get on the same page?

"I was initially afraid of the Beats; I even tried to stay away from them. But they were my teachers, so I couldn't avoid them for long. I had nothing to offer them. I wanted them to make me an artist. I wanted the noble calling of literature. There was nothing I could do but enter the hive."

The ideal choice, of course, would be Stephen King's The Stand, the post-apocalyptic story of God's surviving followers flocking to Boulder, which becomes the cradle of a new society, while all the bad people -- the followers of the "Dark Man" -- head to Vegas.

"'In my dreams I saw myself going west,'" Mother Abigail prophesizes in the tale. 'At first with just a few people, then a few more, then a few more. West, always west, until I could see the Rocky Mountains. It got so there was a whole caravan of us, two hundred or more. And there would be signs...no, not signs from God but regular road-signs, and every one of them saying things like BOULDER, COLORADO, 609 MILES or THIS WAY TO BOULDER.'"

Except for its length, a whopping 1,168 pages in the uncut form, The Stand meets all of the library's requirements: King's alive, he's an engaging public speaker, the book's available in paperback, large print and foreign languages, it's at a high school reading level, and there's a 1994 TV mini-series based on the book starring Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald. Could any other book have a better chance of creating One Boulder? After all, when King needed a place to plop all the good people, he didn't pick Colorado Springs.

For its book program in 2002, Colorado Springs went with To Kill a Mockingbird. Two years out from that experience, Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau president Terry Sullivan has his own recommendation for Boulder: Newport in the Rockies. "It's a great historical story of some of the colorful historical figures," he says. "We would invite the Boulder residents to come and stay at the Broadmoor and read the book."

But that might not be enough to bridge the cultural gaps between the two towns. According to Amazon.com, Springs residents are busy reading Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power, by David Aikman; When Thunder Rolled: An F-105 Pilot Over North Vietnam, by local author Ed Rasimus; and Everyone Else Must Fail: The Unvarnished Truth about Oracle and Larry Ellison, by Karen Southwick. As for Boulderites? They're buried in Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life, by David Grinspoon; Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal, by Joseph Campbell; Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe, by Victor Stenger, and John Nichols's Milagro Beanfield War.

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