BIG DOOR PRIZE.jpg

Best-selling author and Baton Rouge native M.O. Walsh will speak about his latest book, "The Big Door Prize," at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the East Baton Rouge Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.

Walsh also is author of the 2015 bestseller "My Sunshine Away." "The Big Door Prize," published in September 2020, was ordered by Apple+ in May for a 10-part, half-hour TV comedy series adaptation.  The project will be headed by Emmy-winning "Schitt’s Creek" writer and executive producer David West Read.

"The Big Door Prize" tells the story of the residents of a small town called Deerfield, who discover a magical, destiny-predicting machine in their grocery store.

Walsh, a longtime fan of late musician and songwriter John Prine, borrowed his book's title from the Prine song “In Spite of Ourselves.” Moreover, Walsh came to think of Prine’s music as a way to structure his novel, naming nearly all the chapters after Prine songs and hoping that Prine’s many fans will enjoy discovering the dozens of allusions to his work seeded throughout the story.

Then comes the true question of the story: What would you do if you knew your life's potential?

That's the question facing the residents of Deerfield, Louisiana, when the DNAMIX machine appears in their local grocery store. It's nothing to look at, really — it resembles a plain photo booth. But its promise is amazing: With just a quick swab of your cheek and two dollars, the device claims to use the science of DNA to tell you your life's potential.

With enough credibility to make the townspeople curious, soon the former teachers, nurses and shopkeepers of Deerfield are abruptly changing course to pursue their destinies as magicians, cowboys and athletes, including the novel's main characters, Douglas Hubbard and his wife, Cherilyn, who both believed they were perfectly happy until they realized they could dream for more.

Written with linguistic grace and a sense of wonder, "The Big Door Prize" sparkles with keen observations about what it might mean to stay true to oneself while honoring the bonds of marriage, friendship and community.

It also looks at how the glimmer of possibility can pull these bonds apart, bring them back together and make second chances possible, even under the strangest of circumstances.

Walsh is a graduate of the master of fine arts program at the University of Mississippi and is the director of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans, where he lives and works with his wife and family.

Walsh's presentation is hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, at LSU. Admission is free, and face masks are required.

For more information, call (833) 280-5634.