Tale readers go west

By Ben Beagle, Lifestyles Editor
Jan . 13, 2007

A new “Tale” has begun.

Inside today’s editions of The Daily News you’ll find the first two chapters of Mark Spragg’s novel An Unfinished Life , the fifth selection in the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.

An Unfinished Life takes its readers to the fictional town of Ishawooa, Wyo., as it explores human bonds, the difficulty people have with change, the longing for family, the grip of the past and ultimately, the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. There, a bitter Einar Gilkyson basically subsists on his ranch where he cares for his war buddy, Mitch, and battles personal demons.

Then, the daughter-in-law Einar blames for his son’s death in a car accident nearly a decade earlier, arrives at the ranch. Jean is running from an abusive boyfriend, and seeking a temporary safe haven with the granddaughter Einar never knew he had.

Griff, the granddaughter, helps bring about an awakening in Einar.

“The young girl in the story, Griff, is an absolutely wonderful character,” says Leslie DeLooze, the reference librarian at Richmond Memorial Library who started the “Tale” project. “She has so many things going against her, but she has great love for her mother and for the family that she would like to reunite.”

The “Tale” project, organized by a committee representing libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, encourages people in those counties to read the same book, discuss it, and then meet the author when he visits each of the counties in March.

But that’s not the only way to participate.

For the fourth consecutive year, readers may also enter a book review contest sponsored by The Daily News .

“The contest adds a real spark to the program and another dimension of discussion,” DeLooze said. “It gets people to think more deeply about the book, and it has a good incentive to get people to enter.”

Up to six winners will gather at an area restaurant on March 9 for lunch with the author and a chance to discuss his book and writing.

Reviews of 150 words or less must be submitted using an official entry form that can be found in today’s “A Tale for Three Counties” special section (it will also appear several more times in the newspaper).

Entries must be received at The Daily News by Feb. 16.

Winners will be chosen by the “Tale” organizing committee. Judges will consider readers’ reaction to the overall book, a theme or character, and how effectively that reaction is expressed. Tell us what you liked or didn’t like. You don’t need to provide a summary of the story – we’ve already done that for you.

Some reviews or excerpts will be published in the Lifestyles/Extra section of The Daily News .

“I am hoping that more patrons will take the time to enter and enjoy this unusual experience,” said Nancy Bailey, director of Byron-Bergen Public Library.

To help you get started on your review, here is some advice:

How to write a book review

Don’t be intimidated by the review. This isn’t a homework assignment. It’s supposed to be fun. The contest judges simply want you to express your own feelings toward the book.

Record impressions as you read and note effective passages. When writing your review, describe and evaluate the story. But remember, a description is not a summary of events.

Most of all, the contest judges want to know how you reacted to characters or events in An Unfinished Life .

Here are five points to help you organize your thoughts:

– What did you like or not like about the novel?
– Perhaps you reacted strongly to a particular part of the story. Tell us what it was, and why you reacted that way.
– What did you find surprising?
– Are the characters realistic and interesting, or do they seem “flat”? Do they change over the course of the novel?

– What goal or goals do you think the author had in writing this novel? How well does he achieve them?
Discussions begin in Feb.
About a dozen libraries and Genesee Community College will host 19 book discussions during February and March. The project culminates March 8 to 10 when Spragg comes for three days of talks and other programs.

Discussions begin Feb. 8 with a gathering at 7 p.m. at Byron-Bergen Public Library, and continue through March 6 when the final discussions are scheduled for 11 a.m. at Genesee Community College and 7 p.m. at the Warsaw Public Library. A complete schedule appears in today’s special section.

Spragg is scheduled to make four appearances in the three counties. They are: 1 p.m. March 8 at Genesee Community College, Batavia; 7 p.m. March 8 at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia; 7 p.m. March 9 at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina; and 2 p.m. March 10 at Perry Elementary/Middle School, 50 Olin Ave., Perry.

Local libraries are stocking extra copies of the book for purchase or loan. Copies of the book are also available at area bookstores.

Past authors have included Jennifer Donnelly, Julia Spencer-Fleming , Howard Frank Mosher and Leif Enger.

Sponsors for “A Tale for Three Counties” include The Daily News , The Bank of Castile/Tompkins Insurance Agencies Inc., Genesee Community College, Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council, Arts Council for Wyoming County, Genesee Valley BOCES, Burlingham Books in Perry and Wal-Mart. Friends groups from Richmond Memorial Library, Byron-Bergen Public Library, Corfu Free Library, Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, Perry Public Library, Swan Library, Yates Community Library and Arcade Free Library are also contributing to the project.

Also, if you are part of a book club or other group reading An Unfinished Life , we’d love to hear from you for a possible future story. Drop us a note that tells us about your book club: what you call your club, where you meet, what your club usually reads, what you like best about your group and, of course, why you decided to pick up An Unfinished Life . Be sure to include a contact name and number. You may e-mail this information to lifestyles@batavianews.com, or mail it to The Daily News , ATTN: Lifestyles Editor, 2 Apollo Drive, Batavia, NY 14020.

Back to 2007 Articles

Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation


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