Beyond ‘Black River’ Upcoming events deepening understanding of novel, recommending others to read

Jan 28, 2016

BATAVIA — Finding a good book to read is a pleasure, so why is finding the next book, to build on that buzz, such a challenge?


It isn’t for lack of resources. The NoveList database used by NIOGA libraries works to match the preferences of setting, style of writing and other attributes. Amazon uses an algorithm for its recommendations based on past purchases.


Better yet, channel someone whose passion and knowledge can take your enjoyment of one book and reveal more than match and grow that experience.


Book discussions don’t start until next month for S.M. Hulse’s “Black River”, the 2016 “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project, but Erica Caldwell is ready to help those who have already finished the Montana-set tale or have an itch to scratch.


Caldwell, the owner of the former Present Tense Books in Batavia, will provide a primer on the western genre and introduce some can’t-miss books at a “Back in the Saddle” event at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St.


The Jan. 26 event will be spoiler-free for those who haven’t finished or even started “Black River”.


“It’s definitely for people interested in the topic, to hear about a good book to read,” said Leslie DeLooze, co-convener of the “Tale” project and Richmond librarian. “This is a great way to get yourself into the mood (for westerns). It’s very entertaining and will set the tone for our one-book events.”


Having Caldwell lead the second kick-off for the Tale series was an easy decision, as she and her bookstore were a great resource for readers. DeLooze praised her ability to find, read and give descriptive recommendations to individual readers and book clubs.


The genre of the current Tale book and focus is right in her wheelhouse.


“As a very avid western reader, she’s got a lot of background to bring to the program,” DeLooze said.


Caldwell said her love for the genre starts at the source of the stories — the plains and mountain ranges that launch personal journeys.


“I think that the defining element of a Western is the landscape: vast, rugged, demanding, and yet sublimely beautiful,” Caldwell said. “Plots derive from that landscape and the themes of Western literature often speak to the need for humans to leave the artificial existence of modern society and somehow become something purer, more intense, stripped to the essence.”


Caldwell said she loves historical fiction set in the old west, but enjoys contemporary novels as well because they share a spirit.


“I am fascinated by the way the past speaks to the present,” she said.


While the settings of Tale selections have ranged from New England, the south and rural New York, there’s been a spark when the tale comes from out west.


“What’s interesting is that because westerns were a really popular type of books in the 1950s, early 1960s, that they almost seem to have gone out of style,” DeLooze said. “Some of the themes are coming back, in similar and more modern ways.”


“Black River” worked well in providing the right tone and theme for a strong Tale, with a stoic man burdened by scaring incidents and relations past and present.


Caldwell plans to offer a greater view of the genre with recently-published books that will appeal to people looking for something comparable to the Tale book but from the perspective of women and ethnic minorities.


Her list of recommendations will be on hand at local libraries throughout the spring.


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by Jim Krencik, The Daily News (1/22/2016)
For online article, click here!