Personal tales provide winning formula for GCC ‘Tale’ essayists

Thursday, April 19, 2012
By Ben Beagle

Writing for a class assignment doesn’t bring pleasure to Morgan Buonanno. But the Genesee Community College freshman says she does like to write for herself.

That’s the approach Buonanno took for GCC’s recent essay contest that was part of the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project. Though part of an English class assignment, Buonanno was able to personalize her essay about Yannick Murphy’s novel “The Call.”

“When I write for English class, I’m not a writer,” Buonanno said. “But when I can express myself through poetry or something like that I enjoy it. I like putting a little bit of myself in what I write.”

The essay contest saw a staggering 50 entries. There were three winners, including a tie for second place. All three winners modeled their essays on the call-action-response log format Murphy employed in “The Call.”

The novel is the story of a large-animal veterinarian in rural New England who finds the daily rhythms of his family’s life shaken after a hunting accident seriously injures his oldest son. The story is told through a series of logs that relate the veterinarian’s experiences with customers and his own thoughts on those experiences and life events.

Buonanno, the first-place winner, related two separate events from her own life that revealed contrasting emotions.

In the first call, Buonanno writes of learning of her grandmother’s death upon returning from vacation. She relates being upset that her parents did not call her to let her know.

WHAT I FELT: Betrayed, confused, wanting to scream.

ACTION: When I turned 18 I got a tattoo of her favorite flower.”

The tattoo, Buonanno writes, was her “Way of saying goodbye … Now she will always be with me.”

The second call finds Buonanno racing to the hospital where her best friend has gone into labor. Buonanno was there for the delivery.

She writes:

WHAT I FELT: True happiness. I had just been a part of bringing new life into this world. This new life, my godson, has now entered this world and it is my job to keep him safe and to guide him along the right path. This experience I had just gone through was the most disgusting, odd yet beautiful experience I have ever encountered. It was life changing.”

Buonanno said it it took her a few tries to figure out the format, which she liked for its artistic merits.

Second-place winner Tim Vellekoop related the story of an unusual encounter he had with a deer.

“It was a true story. I thought people would get a kick out of it,” said Vellekoop, a general studies student who hopes to move in to GCC’s veterinary technician program.

His father called, Vellekoop’s story goes, telling him that two deer had been hit near the family’s home. One deer was dead and already hanging in the garage. The other was badly wounded but ran off. Vellekoop and a group of friends followed a blood trail through a thicket where “the deer’s survival instinct kicked in.”

The deer, with two broken legs, bolted, but could not outrun Vellekoop, who tackled the deer. Stunned, the deer escaped Vellekoop and ran off again. After two hours of searching, the deer could not be found.

Vellekoop wrote:

WHAT WINTER SAID: I’m going to get the deer. I am bitter and have been following you for a while. I’ve frosted your feet, so you’d best be on your way.”

Also earning a second-place award was John Draper, who wrote about being awakened early by a son and daughter and the hectic morning that followed, including a phone call from creditors. Just as Murphy’s entries gave a voice to inanimate objects, Draper included a comment from a bedroom clock.

Buonanno and Vellekoop were recognized at a March 22 luncheon that kicked off 2012’s recently completed “A Tale for Three Counties” project. About 20 people attended the luncheon, which included Gypsy Soup, a dish featured in “The Call.”

Murphy met several instructors from the college who incorporated “The Call” into their curriculum. A record number of classes used the book this semester.

“I love for the students to make a connection between the book and the author who wrote it,” said GCC English professor Nancy Rademacker.

During the luncheon, Murphy previewed several themes she would talk about during public appearances in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. Murphy presented four talks and book signings between March 22 and 24.

Back to Articles 2012
Courtesy of Batavia New

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