Editorial: ‘Racing’ to the end

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You want me to read what? A novel narrated by a dog.

This year’s “A Tale for Three Counties” selection, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” may have been the most unusual book chosen by the community reading project’s organizers. But eight years into the program a high level of trust has developed between local readers and Tale organizers.

And the 2010 selection did not let readers down.

Once skeptical readers found that once they picked up the book and began reading, they raced through it. You didn’t need to have a particular fondness for dogs, or be a racing fan to find something to enjoy.

As the latest Tale program reaches the finish line this week, readers will get a chance to meet author Garth Stein and share their enjoyment. They are also likely to find out how Mr. Stein discovered Enzo, his canine narrator, and this novel approach to storytelling. It’s a story, that through the voice of a philosophical dog, reminds us to slow down and stay focused on the finish line.

But be sure to bring questions; there’ll be time during the program and the booksignings afterwards to ask Mr. Stein your own questions. The chance to meet readers and talk with them is his favorite part of writing books, says Mr. Stein, whose first career was as a documentary filmmaker.

People who have heard Mr. Stein speak say he’s down to earth and personable.

“He’s sharp, funny and quick-witted,” says Brian McGuigan of Richard Hugo House, a literary arts center near Stein’s home in Seattle, “and has the knack of finding the humor in the mundane and every day.”

Tale started in 2003, a project organized by the public libraries of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, and later joined by Genesee Community College, to encourage people to read the same book, discuss it and then meet the author. Organizers have a pretty good track record in picking authors — three of them have released new books in the past month. And this year’s author already has two more in the works.

Mr. Stein will make two appearances in Batavia today: 1 p.m. at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., and 7 p.m. at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St. Then, on Friday, he visits Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina, for a 7 p.m. program. His trip ends Saturday where he speaks at 2 p.m. at the Perry Elementary/Middle School, a program hosted by Perry Public Library.

For each program, Mr. Stein is expected to discuss how he discovered Enzo and how this fictional canine came to figurative life and told him the story.

“Once I had the characters I felt the book start to happen and my job was just to take notes,” Mr. Stein said in an interview published in Saturday’s edition of The Daily News.

So make a note, there are four chances to meet Stein in the next few days.

Once again, our thanks to the librarians who organized the project, from selecting the title to hosting book discussions and handling all the arrangement’s for Mr. Stein’s visit. A lot of hours of work go into “A Tale for Three Counties” — which has become a year-round planning process.

But through their hard work, readers are able to discover new authors who are sure to become among their favorites and, after meeting the author, often find a new friend.
Back to 2010 Articles

Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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