An Open Letter to Minneapolis

Seattle named second most literate city. But don’t get too comfortable, No. 1.

January 4, 2009 Published in the March 2008 issue of Seattle Met

YO, MINNEAPOLIS. Nice one. You fooled them again—suckered the nation into believing you’re the most literate. It must feel like 2004 all over again, the last time you were (wrongly) crowned Most Literate City in America. We don’t need to remind you that we held the title in 2005 and 2006—for reasons that simply do not go away. Seattle is affiliated with some of the best writers in America. Raymond Carver, Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Raban, Charles D’Ambrosio, Tom Robbins, Richard Hugo, Theodore Roethke. Who do you have again? Sinclair Lewis, poet and “men’s movement” founder Robert Bly, pulpy sci-fi writer Clifford Simak.

Central Connecticut State University, which conducts the study every year, bases the ranking on number of bookstores, education level, Internet resources, libraries, and locally published newspapers and magazines. We don’t know what ultimately swayed things in your favor (even CCSU admits we best you in bookstores, education level, and Internet resources) but let’s be honest, miserably cold city to miserably cold city: You know you’re not really No. 1.

Now it’s a new year, and CCSU will be watching closely to determine the most literate city again. We say bring it on, Minneapolis. We say try your best. We say reading Tiny Tim and Mr. Plym, the biography of the ukulele-playing Minneapolitan Tiny Tim, doesn’t count. We’ll spend 2008 reading our brains out, every Seattleite buying more tomes at local bookstores than ever, poring over daily and weekly papers till our fingertips go permanently black, and studying Seattle’s best city magazine.

Good luck in 2008 Minneapolis. And let the best city (ours) win.

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