Pulitzer Project hits stumbling blocks as spring arrives in Carter County

Leona Charleigh Holman is quickly nearing the quarter mark in her year-long Pulitzer Project, and the warmer weather has brought with it a score of distractions and other responsibilities to take her away from her reading.

“I am starting to get antsy,” Holman said. “All my calculations are coming up short.”

March comes to a close next week as a laundry list of chores is popping up around the house, including her field of Cyprus trees. She said the young trees took damage during the high bouts of wind over the past month.

“I have 50 of them, and over half of them are severely leaning,” she said. “I can correct them, but it takes work.”

On top of this, she said the switch to daylight savings time has messed with her internal clock.

Normally, she does her reading in the mornings and the evenings, in between which she will get her housework and lawn care work done. With the clock going forward an hour, she said she has found herself with less time in the evenings than she thought and more time in the mornings than she thought, meaning she often misses her scheduled reading times.

In spite of these difficulties, however, she said she has finished roughly a quarter of her 100-book reading list as of now.

This time around, her focus has been on works during the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. She said the contrast between the works is striking.

“Entries from the ’30s are more direct and have less song and dance,” Holman said. “The execution is cleaner.”

Among the books she has read are The Good Earth, a novel showcasing the treatment of women in different cultures, and The Yearling.

She said she is noticing a shift in scope as she approaches the post-World War II era.

“Everyday people are becoming more aware of the world around them in works from the ’40s,” Holman said.

She said this change in scope is making the Pulitzers more global as she keeps going.

The next book club meeting will be Tuesday, March 26, at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library at 5:30 p.m. This time, the focus of discussion will be The Hours, a recasting of the book Mrs. Dalloway.

“I am amazed at how he found the voice for three women at once, to give us a slice of the demons of depression Virginia
Wolfe went through,” Holman said.

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