Tale 2012 pick is a ‘Call’ to readers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
By Ben Beagle bbeagle@batavianews.com

BATAVIA — The next title in the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project takes an inventive — some might say daring — approach to tell its story.

Yannick Murphy’s “The Call” was revealed as the 2012 Tale selection Monday night at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., and simultaneously at three other locations in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

“The Call,” the project’s 10th selection, does not follow a traditional narrative as it explores a family’s struggle to maintain stability after its eldest son is seriously injured and left comatose from a hunting accident. Murphy, instead, tells the story of a small-town veterinarian and his family through the vet’s working journal, a series of call logs that reveal where he went, what he did, and also what he’s doing to understand what is happening to his family.

“I could see no better way to the story of a man, who, at times clinical and precise, but who also clearly enjoys moments of levity, was going to react to experiences that would test his emotions and the emotional balance of his family,” Murphy wrote in an email to The Daily News. “The only way for him to figure all of it out was to discuss it in a way that he, a doctor, would be comfortable with — the log form.”

As the vet David Appleton seeks the man responsible for his son’s shooting, an unexpected visitor arrives with a request that will have profound consequences — testing the father’s patience, humor and resolve and forcing husband and wife to come to terms with what “family” means.

Dozens of area readers attended announcement events that also took place at the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., Batavia; Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina; and Perry Public Library, 70 North Main St., Perry. Each gathering included themed refreshments and decorations designed to hint at the selection and door prizes, including a copy of the book.

Tale, which started in 2003 with Leif Enger’s “Peace Like a River,” encourages readers in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties to read the same book, come to a discussion event and then meet the author during a series of visits to each county. Library book discussions begin in January; Murphy is scheduled to visit each of the counties in March.

The goal is to foster literacy, promote discussion among all kinds of people and create a positive experience for the community.

Books are chosen based on acclaim received from reviews or awards, an accessibility to readers of many ages, a story that encourages the discussion of literature and a theme that includes small town or rural family life. Tale organizers seek out upcoming authors, or authors that are not as well know among area readers. It is also important that the author be available to participate in a series of visits.

“The Call,” released in August, was just named of the 10 best fiction works of 2011 by Publishers Weekly, which had given the novel a starred review upon its release.

Murphy’s novel was also named a “Great Read” by the Indie Next List, a survey of independent booksellers.

“The warmth, humor and believability of the characters — including the four-legged variety — balance out the darker elements of the story and make ‘The Call’ an absolute delight to read,” Carol Schneck of Schuler books & Music in Okemos, Mich., wrote for the Indie Next List.

Murphy’s fourth novel also earned coveted starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. Many reviews have praised her eye for small-town details, characterizations and humor.

Murphy, a Vermont author and mother of three, is married to a horse veterinarian. His storytelling inspired “The Call.”

“My husband, besides being a veterinarian, is a good story-teller, so when he comes home and he’s standing in our kitchen in his muddy boots, with a blade of hay poking from his hair, and possibly some blood on his hands from a castration, or a gash he had to sew up on a horse who decided to go through a fence, he weaves such a tale that I’d be stupid not to ‘borrow’ it from him and re-work it using my own words,” Murphy wrote in an email to The Daily News. “At times, when I go with my husband on his calls, he can get the most laconic of farmers or horse owners to talk about their life story, and so I don’t have to do anything but listen … I like to call it ‘writer’s windfall.’”

Murphy’s writing has ranged from short stories to children’s book to three previous novels, “Signed, Mata Hari,” “Here They Come” and “The Sea of Trees.” Her work has also appeared in “Best American Nonrequired Reading” and “The O. Henry Prize Short Stories.”

Short stories, Murphy wrote, were her first love, but “novels were also a natural progression … simply because I had more to say on certain subjects.”

Murphy is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Award and a Chesterfield Screenwriting Award.

Previous authors for “A Tale for Three Counties” have included Leif Enger, Howard Frank Mosher, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Jennifer Donnelly, Mark Spragg, Thomas Mullen, P.L. Gaus, Garth Stein and Hillary Jordan.

For Murphy, Tale will be the first community read she has participated in.

The honor, she wrote, “inspires the current writing I’m doing so that I approach my work with renewed energy, that without any recognition, I might not have done so easily. It also puts in perspective, what so often writers lose sight of, the fact that we are not just writing for ourselves in a room alone … we are actually reaching large groups of people who may be interested in our writing and ideas. Because of this, I think it encourages writers to write at a level which demands more effort and produces unique results and writing that will stand the test of time.

Yannick Murphy website: www.yannickmurphy.com/

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Courtesy of Batavia Newpapers Corporation

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