On The Wings of The Maltese Falcon: "Scranton Reads" Comes to Marywood University This Fall

By Alison Trautmann
Staff Writer

In October, Marywood University will participate in the “Scranton Reads” program for the first time. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Albright Memorial Library, and the City of Scranton, “Scranton Reads” is a community-wide event during which Scranton area residents read the same book and participate in events, discussions, and movie screenings based on the book. Dr. Agnes Cardoni, a professor in the English Department at Marywood University, was the driving factor behind bringing “Scranton Reads” to Marywood. The 2008 “Scranton Reads” program highlights The Maltese Falcon, a 1930s detective novel by Dashiell Hammett.

According to the NEA, the goal is “to restore reading to the center of American culture.” Dr. Cardoni supports this goal because “people who don’t read don’t know what is going on…Books are a great way to connect with others because they give people a common conversation starter.”

“The ‘Scranton Reads’ program gives people the opportunity to read a common book and The Maltese Falcon is a great one to read,” Dr. Cardoni said. “The Maltese Falcon is an excellent book to read because of the way Hammett crafts his language. The descriptions are marvelous. The book gives its reader a vivid picture of the culture of the late 1920s; the slang, the dress, the drinks. The Maltese Falcon also gives readers an idea of what being a private investigator required in the 1920s. It was a lot of waiting around for things to happen, because there were no cell phones and police couldn’t be summoned in an instant.”

The Maltese Falcon is set in 1928 San Francisco, and takes place over six days. The plot revolves around detective Sam Spade and his involvement in the finding of a falcon statuette. The website advertises The Maltese Falcon as a book “about what it’s like to want something—a fortune, a lover, or even respect—so bad that you would kill for it.”

Throughout the month of October, there will be activities, book discussions, and movie screenings that relate to the novel. Marywood will be hosting several events for its students. A student presentation at noon in the Fireplace Lounge on September 25 during the annual Book Swap will feature three English majors speaking about The Maltese Falcon. Also, a panel discussion of the book on October 8 at 7 p.m. will feature Dr. Walter Broughton, Dr. Michael Mirabito, and Dr. Philip Mosley. Finally, on October 9 at 7 p.m., Marywood will screen the 1941 version of the film starring Humphrey Bogart, with a discussion of the film following the screening.

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