When an author calls | SierraSun.com

When an author calls

Lydia Sparksworthy
Good Reads

f the many joys of reading and meeting with a group, there is the remarkable experience of having the author attend.

The Truckee Library Book Group and other local book groups have taken advantage of this opportunity in the past, and plan to enjoy the venues in coming months. The most immediate event will be this Thursday evening (and event was also held Monday), when the Squaw Valley Community of Writers hosts authors and their work. Book group participants are savoring the anticipation of hearing Elizabeth Rosner speak (along with Amy Tan, Alice Sebold, and Mark Childress).

Then the group can discuss Rosner’s “The Speed of Light” at our next meeting (Aug. 15). Greater appreciation of someone’s work abounds with the opportunity to hear them speak or read from a work in progress; you really do feel privy to another person’s point of view.

Remember when Jim Houston came to town? The town of Truckee got to spend a weekend exploring the history and drama presented in his “Snow Mountain Passage,” a book on the Donner Party experience. It was a thrill to celebrate local history and get to share view points at all of the events for Houston’s novel. “This is the good stuff,” I kept thinking all weekend, especially at Donner Memorial State Park. Houston and Gayle Greene, an interpretive guide at the state park, presented a panel discussion on Donner Party history and lore, with lively participation from attendees. It was snowing like the dickens for that evening’s program, yet there was a full house. What a night!

More recently, Bill Wyman visited Truckee. His novel “High Country” has some similar appeal for history readers and mountain-lovers. Wyman’s elegant, sparse writing illuminates hidden details of human existence. Further discussion (with questions and answers) with Wyman revealed more fascinating facts about mule packing in high places and experiences of World War II worthy of sharing.

The staff at the Bookshelf looks forward to hosting local photographer and writer Elizabeth Carmel with her stellar new book “Brilliant Waters, Portraits of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and the High Sierra” in September. She’ll treat us all to a slideshow and we can hear more about her important and stunning work. Later in September, Charles Durrett will provide another opportunity for learning and discussion about co-housing, with his book “Senior Co-Housing, A Community Approach to Independent Living” (also at the Bookshelf).

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Perhaps one of my fondest memories of our book group-author connection is when Alice Hoffman phoned in during a meeting. She called from just outside of Boston to join in the discussion of “The Ice Queen,” and also to share insights into her body of work. What a thrill it was to have a conversation bringing together voices from a bigger chunk of the world than usual and including this much admired writer! We heard about what it was like to be featured on Oprah Winfrey’s program (Alice had us all laughing along as she admitted that she could barely remember much of anything from the experience other than the fact that she thought Oprah was beautiful), and what Alice was reading at the time. It turns out that she doesn’t do a lot of reading when she’s writing ” although she was looking forward to Anne Tyler’s new book “Digging to America.”

Again, this is the good stuff! Whether it’s Pam Houston stopping by, the O’Shaughnessey sisters for a “drive-by signing” or Jan Brett (the beloved children’s illustrator and author) on a nation-wide tour, always seize the opportunity, on your own or with your group to connect with authors whenever you possibly can. It’s a wonderful way widen your world.

Lydia Sparksworthy is a Friend of the Truckee Library and the manager of the Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks.