Readers eager to ask question at lunch with author

March 9, 2010
By Ben Beagle bbeagle@batavianews.com

Ann Burlingham of Perry has some questions for Garth Stein, author of this year’s “A Tale for Three Counties” book selection, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

So, too, does Linda Daviau of Batavia.

“I wonder where all the deep thoughts come from,” Daviau said. “I thought his book was very philosophical.”

Burlingham, Daviau and four other winners of the community reading project’s annual invitation-only “Lunch with the Author” will be able to ask all the questions they want to on Friday when they meet Stein for a lunch-time discussion at D & R Depot in Le Roy.
Other winners are Sally Capurso of Bergen, Meghan Hauser of Perry, Joyce Thompson-Hovey of Pavilion and Elizabeth Saleh of Corfu. Capurso and Saleh are first times winners of the contest.

For Capurso, this year is the first time she has participated in Tale programs. She got involved when the small book club she leads at St. Brigid’s Church decided to read “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

The novel features Enzo, a wise old dog, reflecting on his life and the personal and professional trials experienced by his master.

“Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down,” Capurso said. “I love the dog’s point of view. Having cats and dogs myself I often wonder what they are thinking. I always talk to mine so it gave credence to that idea — that there are actually others who talk to their pets regularly and maybe even think the pets talk back, in their own way.”

The book review contest, which is sponsored by The Daily News, started in 2004 as a way to give selected readers a more personal experience with the author. (The author’s public appearances include time for asking questions, too).

Tale organizers revised the contest’s format this year, asking readers to select one of two questions: “How did it make you feel to have a dog narrate the story?” or “Which ‘Enzoism’ (Enzo’s favorite sayings) did you think was most essential to the story.”

By providing questions, “readers could focus on a particular question, and not get hung up describing the plot,” said Leslie DeLooze, a librarian at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia. “We really wanted to people to express their opinions and make it personal.”

It was also hoped that the change would encourage more people to enter the contest. A total of 18 entries from readers in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties were reviewed by members of the Tale for Three Counties Council, the non-profit collection of librarians that organize the annual Tale project.

Burlingham says she’s not a dog person, nor a racing person. But she is a book person (she owns Burlingham Books in Perry) and said she was able to enjoy the fantasy of a book narrated by a dog.

“The writing is very good, characters are very interesting,” Burlingham said.

Though she did think some of the incidents were a little unrealistic, notably a subplot involving a teen girl’s accusations against Denny.

“I didn’t like (the author) using the girl like that,” Burlingham said. “I don’t think in the real world most young girls accuse an older man of lying.”

Still, Burlingham said the book was thought-provoking and more emotional than she expected.

Stein will visit Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties this week for talks and book signings in each county. His schedule: 1 p.m. Thursday at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., Batavia; 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; and 2 p.m. Saturday at Perry Elementary/Middle School, 50 Olin Ave., a program hosted by Perry Public Library.

Two final book discussions are scheduled for 12:30 today in the Media Room of Alfred C. O’Connell Library at Genesee Community College, Batavia; and at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday at Richmond Memorial Library

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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