Welcome Matt: Placing ‘Black River’ in the rearview mirror

Published March 17, 2016

Sarah Hulse boarded a plane Sunday morning for a two-stop flight back to her Spokane, Wash. home. With that departure from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, many of us blew out the deep exhale of accomplishment. The whirlwind weekend was over, and we could all finally relax.

The 14th annual “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project went about as well as those of us on the committee could have hoped. It’s always an anxiety-inducing undertaking to plan the author’s visit and various book discussions.

Hulse entertained some of the larger crowds the “Tale” program has seen in recent years with her girl-next-door charm and approachableness. She seemed to genuinely take interest in the questions readers posed about her debut novel, “Black River.” But she also didn’t back down about why she chose to have her characters behave the way they did. Oh, you think the book should have ended differently? Hulse will give you a matter-of-fact “but it didn’t.” She’s friendly, but she’s tough.

Hulse has already begun working on her second novel, a task she said is a much different experience now that she has a deadline. But those of use who had the pleasure of meeting her this past weekend will eagerly await it. In fact, we will follow her career, just as we have with the previous 13 authors we have welcomed to the area.

I know Hulse will do well. She has already accepted a tenure-track position with the University of Nevada, Reno. She will be start as an assistant professor of creative writing in the fall semester.

This was my third “Tale” weekend, and it reaffirmed why I spend so much time and effort on it throughout the year. And I’m hardly alone. Dozens of librarians and volunteers funnel their hearts into the project for the entire year leading up to the big event.

Every year, we fret for months over finding the right book to present to the reading public. We read then debate over dozens of titles until we finally agree on one. I would love to say that selecting the book is as easy as finding the right shirt at the clothing store, that it just jumps out and says “pick me.” Sadly, that is never the case. Often, some of us will agree to choose a book even though we preferred another.

The month following each “Tale” weekend is a time for the committee members to relax, revel in the success of the program, and recharge. Then it’s back to scouring the new-release shelves and working toward next year.

When the committee meets again in April, we’ll once again discuss possible selections for the 2017 program. If you have a suggested title, let us know. Maybe it will be the follow-up to “Black River.”

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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