"At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily since."
That delightfully full-of-himself line opens Salvador Dalí's memoir The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. To celebrate what would have been the author's 109th birthday, the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg will stage a 24-hour read-a-thon of the memoir, with more than 80 preselected readers each taking about 20 minutes to complete the 417-page book. The event starts at 11 a.m. on Friday and ends 24 hours later on Saturday, the surrealist's birthday. It's free for all guests to listen to the readings in the lobby during regular museum hours; and $5 for nonmembers after 5:30 p.m. (The galleries will close after 5:30 p.m. Friday). There will be a toast to the artist at midnight, with snacks, beer, wine and coffee for sale and prizes for endurance. The book, published in 1942, was called "one of the most irresistible books of the year" by Time magazine, while George Orwell denounced Dali's accounts of physical abuse against woman, saying it is possible to still regard Dali as a great artist "and a disgusting human being." And yes, the book is for sale for $14.95 in the museum store at 1 Dali Blvd. (Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE) in downtown St. Petersburg.