Many ways to join ‘Tale’ Community Library book discussions begin next week

By Ben Beagle, Lifestyles Editor
Feb. 5, 20007

You read An Unfinished Life. Perhaps you saw the movie. Maybe you
listened to the audio book.
Beginning next week, the community part of the “A Tale for Three
Counties” community reading project takes center stage.
Fourteen area libraries have scheduled 19 discussions of Mark
Spragg’s novel An Unfinished Life. The first gathering is set for 7
p.m. Thursday at Byron-Bergen Public Library, 13 South Lake St.,
Bergen.
Discussions continue through March 6, with several including film
screenings. Spragg comes for talks and booksignings in each county
March 8, 9 and 10.
“A Tale for Three Counties,” started five years ago by libraries in
Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, encourages readers in the
counties to pick up and read the same book.
“The whole reading experience is more exciting and interesting when
shared,” said Susie Gaylard, administrative assistant and adult
program planner at Swan Library, Albion.
“You know how much fun it is to discuss a recently read book. When
you can’t find anyone who has read it, it simply becomes another
book,” she said.
An Unfinished Life takes readers to fictional Ishawooa, Wyo., where
Jean Gilkyson flees from an abusive boyfriend with Griff, her
10-year-old daughter. They find a safe – if not immediately welcoming
– haven on a ranch with Einar Gilkyson, Jean’s bitter father-in-law,
and Mitch Bradley, Einar’s war buddy and the victim of a bear attack.
Einar blames himself for Mitch’s injuries, and he blames Jean for his
son’s death.
Griff, the granddaughter Einar didn’t know he had, helps bring about
an awakening in the old man.
The novel’s contemporary Western setting is a change for a project
whose last two books have been set in upstate New York, but the
story’s themes are universal. Spragg explores concerns about family,
forgiveness and relationships in a style that can be both
heartbreaking and funny.
While the discussions are intended to help readers prepare for
Spragg’s talks and book signings next month., they can do much more.
“We learn to look at things from other people’s perspectives,”
Gaylard said. “Participants are given an opportunity to share
opinions about the value and content of the book.”
The informal discussions typically start with a question to get
people talking about the book. From there, the conversation can flow
in any direction depending on the group’s interests and questions.
The book group at Perry Public Library, 70 North Main St., Perry,
where a discussion is planned for 7 p.m. Feb. 27, has been meeting
the fourth Tuesday of each month for more than five years. A core
group of about a half dozen members attend each month, but others
come occasionally and anyone is welcome, said library director Peggy
Parker.
Parker expects that a comparison of the book and movie is likely.
“That is sure to add depth to the discussion,” Parker said. “The book
and movie are not significantly different, but I am curious about the
minor changes that were made.”
Members of the 4-month-old Page Turners Book Discussion Group at Swan
Library, 4 North Main St., Albion, are reading An Unfinished Life for
its Feb. 21 discussion, which will be followed by a showing of the
movie and perhaps an additional discussion about how accurately the
movie interprets the book.
Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia, will also show the
movie at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 and then discuss the story.
“In the discussion, we will talk about the challenges of converting a
novel to film and how well the film succeeded in capturing the
essence of the book,” said Leslie DeLooze, the reference and
community services librarian at Richmond who started the Tale project.
Richmond’s movie screening is in addition to two book discussions, at
7:45 a.m. Feb. 14 and 7 p.m. Feb. 15.
The discussions are just one way to get involved with this year’s Tale
project.
Readers are encouraged to share opinions about An Unfinished Life in
a book review contest sponsored by The Daily News. Up to six winners
will be selected to have lunch with Spragg on March 9.
To enter the contest, send a review of 150 word or less and an
original entry form (on page B-4 in today’s newspaper) to The Daily
News, ATTN: Lifestyles Editor, 2 Apollo Drive, Batavia, NY 14020.
Entries must be received at The Daily News by Feb. 16.
Spragg will visit each county in March. His schedule: 1 p.m. March 8
at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., Batavia; 7 p.m. March 8
at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia; 7 p.m. March 9 at Lee-Whedon
Memorial Library, Medina; and 2 p.m. March 10 in the Perry
Elementary-Middle School Auditorium, 50 Olin Ave., Perry, a program
presented by Wyoming County’s public libraries.
More than 1,000 people have participated in some part of the Tale
project each year. Several libraries started discussion programs as a
result of interest generated by the Tale talks.
“Each phase of the reading program simply adds to the whole
experience of participating and interacting with neighbors, friends
and others who simply enjoy a good book,” Gaylard said.

Getting involved in Tale is as simple as picking up the book. Copies
of An Unfinished Life are available for loan and purchase at
libraries and bookstores in the three counties.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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