Beyond the Book: Background information when reading My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead

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My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead

Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro

by Jeffrey Eugenides

My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead by Jeffrey Eugenides X
My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead by Jeffrey Eugenides
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 608 pages

    Jan 2009, 600 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva
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About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead

Print Review

All proceeds from My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead will go directly to fund the free youth writing programs offered by 826 Chicago. 826 Chicago is part of the network of seven writing centers across the United States affiliated with 826 National, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Remember a little book called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, back in 2000? If you do, you can imagine that the paperback rights to that unexpected bestseller fetched a healthy sum. You might be surprised to learn, however, that Eggers used much of it to fund a free drop-in writing center for children ages 6 to 18. He called it 826 Valencia: the address of the founding site in San Francisco.

826 Valencia hit the ground running in 2002 with hundreds of volunteers – many of them well-known writers -- on the waiting list. Today, they offer workshops and one-on-one tutoring in any imaginable area of writing – homework assignments, cartooning, playwriting, zine-publication, college entrance essays, poetry, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Children publish their work in zines, chapbooks*, and handmade books, as well as in the 826 Quarterly and other collections sold in bookstores across the U.S. The nonprofit also sends volunteer writers to public schools to teach workshops, as well as inviting entire classes on field trips to their sites, and awards college scholarships and "teacher of the month" awards for local public school teachers.

As interest built in communities across the country, 826 Valencia grew into 826 National, a tutoring and mentorship model that now thrives in New York, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston. To raise funds and awareness in the communities they serve, most centers include a street-front specialty store, inspired by 826 Valencia's Pirate Supply Store, where you can purchase glass eyes, eye-patches, one-of-a-kind peglegs, flags, and lard, in addition to all of the center's publications. According to the 826 Stores page, "826NYC's Superhero Supply Company offers custom-fit capes, Seattle’s Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company sells "rare imports from other planets," 826 Michigan's Monsters Union Local specializes in bottling screams, 826LA features a time travel store, there's a secret agent supply store in Chicago, and a Cryptozoology shop in Boston is in the works!"

*A chapbook is a small, usually pocket-sized, book which can be as small as a pamphlet or up to about 30 pages - a format particularly popular for poetry publications. In modern usage, a chapbook usually refers to a self-created book of a limited print-run.

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Article by Lucia Silva

This "beyond the book article" relates to My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead. It originally ran in February 2008 and has been updated for the January 2009 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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