By Ben Beagle, Daily News Lifestyles Editor
March 20, 2004
Howard Frank Mosher’s imagination and talent “make the people and places of Kingdom County seem more like a work of non-fiction than fiction,” writes Nancy Elmore of Le Roy.
Meghan DeGolyer Hauser of Perry said local readers “will be struck by how much it seems this book could have been written about us.”
Elmore and Hauser are referring to Mosher’s novel, Northern Borders, this year’s “A Tale for Three Counties” selection.
The community reading project has people in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties jointly reading the novel, and talking about it at discussions at local libraries in advance of the author’s visit next week. Eleven readers, including Hauser and Elmore, shared their reactions in a book review contest that has a lunch with the author as the prize for six winning entries.
Northern Borders is a nostalgic look back at the childhood of Austen Kittredge III, who grew up with his grandparents in the dozen years after World War II. Austen, as narrator, shares memories of his relationship with his eccentric and often-warring guardians — an Egypt-obsessed grandmother and his outdoors-loving grandfather.
Librarians said the book has generated lively discussions.
“Everyone was excited to share their thoughts,” said Mary Zangerle, director of the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, Medina.
Zangerle said her library’s gathering for Northern Borders was one of its better book discussions. One woman shared that she was planning to buy the book for her husband, and joked that she was going right home to pick a fight with her husband, Zangerle said.
In Mosher’s novel, Austen’s grandparents are noted for their constant verbal sparring, nicknamed “The 40 Years War.”
“Many people said the characters were well portrayed and even in their eccentricity they were refreshing, showing the importance of family relationships and the support system provided by the family despite their differences of opinion,” Zangerle said.
At Byron-Bergen Public Library, 13 South Lake Ave., Bergen, a patron told Nancy Bailey that Northern Borders was the best book she had ever read.
Readers are finding a lot in common between the lively characters of fictional Kingdom County and the ruralness of their own communities.
“Northern Borders is unforgettably set in the Northern Kingdom of Vermont, yet its place and people may seem irresistibly familiar to Western New Yorkers,” writes Ann Burlingham of Perry.
“But these stories aren’t bleak tales, they are lovingly polished memories of strong people in harsh conditions living the best lives they can,” she writes.
Mosher will visit Thursday to March 27 for a series of programs at libraries in all three counties. The programs will include a talk and slide show, a question-and-answer session, and a book signing. The schedule: 7 p.m. Thursday at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia; 7 p.m. Friday at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina; 10 a.m. March 27 at Arcade Free Library, 365 West Main St., Arcade; and 2 p.m. March 27 in the Letchworth Central School Auditorium.
The final book discussion is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Stevens Memorial Library, 146 Main St., Attica.
Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation