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English Department, supporters gear up for Marathon Reading

By Daily Bruin Staff

May 10, 2000 9:00 p.m.

By Courtney Luckhardt

Daily Bruin Contributor

Starting at noon, hundreds of participants will gather at Rolfe
Courtyard to begin a 25-hour journey through Thomas Pynchon’s
“Gravity’s Rainbow” for the English
Department’s Fifth Annual Marathon Reading.

The Marathon Reading features the non-stop oral reading of a
major novel and is held as a fundraiser for the English Department
to provide fellowships, research stipends and travel grants to
students. The department also seeks to promote literature and
education in the community at large, not just at UCLA.

“Marathon Reading is a celebration of literature and
literacy in the UCLA community,”said Melissa Sodeman, a
first-year English graduate student and co-chair of the event.

“(“˜Gravity’s Rainbow’) is very readable,
has a cult following, it’s importance cannot be understated
in post-modern American literature ““ and there are rockets in

“Gravity’s Rainbow” tells the story of an
American lieutenant who treks across the American Zone of occupied
Germany in the last months of World War II. The novel won the
American Book Award in 1974.

Many guest readers have attended the Marathon Reading in the
past, and this year is no exception.

Celebrities such as John Astin, who played Gomez on the 1960s TV
series the “Addam’s Family,” and Mayim Bialik, a
UCLA student who starred in the sitcom “Blossom,” are
scheduled to participate.

“All of the celebrities we have coming to the reading are
already interested in supporting UCLA’s English
Department,” said Andrea Richardson, a first-year English
student and the celebrity coordinator for the event. “We just
did a lot of grunt work to exploit those connections.”

Executive Vice Chancellor Rory Hume will read, as well as many
faculty members, teaching assistants, and students of the English

The audience will be made up of all different types of people,
from financial supporters, alumni who want to relive their UCLA
days, students from local schools, and UCLA students, Sodeman

Over the course of the reading, the English Department hopes the
audience totals will reach into the thousands, as in past

Past readers include Charlton Heston, who in 1996 read the final
chapter of “Moby Dick,” civil rights leader Rosa Parks,
and film and television actor John Lithgow.

The event is a showcase for the department and its faculty and
students. The Marathon Reading is used as a time to elicit monetary
support from department alumni, “Friends of English”
members, and community members in general.

Many alumni who wish to contribute to the university wish to do
so for their specific major instead of just generally to the
university, and the marathon reading gives them a chance to do

Many local and national companies support the event as well,
from the Beverly Hills Hilton, Coffee Bean, test-prep companies
such as Princeton Review and Kaplan, and local bookstores.

These companies will provide prizes for a raffle held as the
event, which will give away prizes such as a stay at the Beverly
Hills Hilton, and MCAT and GRE review courses.

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