Welcome Matt: What’s in a name? Confusion

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 
By Matt Krueger mkrueger@batavianews.com

“Hi, I’m Joan.”

“Hi, I’m Jean.”

“Hi, I’m Jane.”

“Hi, I’m Mary Jane.”

“Hi, I’m Matt, and there’s no way I’m keeping all of your names straight.”

So began my first foray into the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project. It’s like they were testing me.

My predecessor at The Daily News, Ben Beagle, was a “Tale” founder 12 years ago. He has been front and center during all of the happenings for more than a decade. He knows everything that has happened, because he was there for it. Due of that, his relationship with the “Tale” committee and readers is strong and familiar. They all know him and greet him warmly when he shows up for an event.

Then here I come, a newbie who not only is adjusting to the world of lifestyles after nine years in sports and three in news, but still learning how to drive from Batavia to Albion without getting lost. (Full disclosure: it’s a straight shot up Route 98. There is one turn, and I missed it.)

I had never heard of “Tale” until after I started at The Daily News eight months ago. But then I took my seat at a table for Saturday’s dinner with 2013 “Tale” author Peter Troy and met Joan, Jean, Jane and Mary Jane. It was completely coincidental to sit with the four Js, but I felt like someone was laughing and asking “How do you like that, rookie?”

I must admit that everyone seated at my dinner table was friendly, warm and inviting. They were all very interested to meet “New Ben.”

The interest carried on beyond our eight-person table. Following a wonderful presentation from Troy, which included him reading passages from his forthcoming book “The Plow Share Legacy,” others introduced themselves to me.

The highlight of the evening — even better than the Thanksgiving dinner served to us — was listening to Troy speak about the writing process and how he creates his characters. There was a time when my career path pointed toward fictional writer. But it has been years since I have done any non-journalistic writing. Hearing Troy read from his second novel re-ignited the creative spark in me just as it has for so many of the people involved with “Tale.”

After waiting around for Troy to sign copies of his book and speak to readers, I got my chance for a five-minute sit-down with him. He is an amazingly approachable man, who is willing to talk to anyone about the writing process. He gave his personal email address to one reader who was struggling with writing her own story. How many authors would do that so freely?

The entire evening, from meeting the four Js to interviewing Troy, taught me one thing: “Tale” is a splendid program. Anything that encourages people to read and, more importantly, analyze and discuss the text is worthwhile. “Tale” does just that. And the beautiful thing about it is that the only experience required to participate is the ability to read.

If you’re interested in participating in future “Tale” events, visit www.taleforthreecounties.org or the group’s Facebook page for more information. You’ll see me there. And then I won’t be the new guy any longer.

(Lifestyles Editor Matt Krueger writes the weekly “Welcome Matt” column about his introduction to the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming area. It appears each Thursday in the Genescene.)

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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