A new chapter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

Sylvia Davis so wanted to win a spot at lunch with author Tim O'Brien, she put her name in the drawing box at the library almost every day for 25 days.

"They drew my name four times," Davis said. "That's how dedicated I am."

The library hosted a drawing for 10 people to have lunch with the author of this year's Austin Page Turners' book "The Things They Carried." Patrons only could enter once per visit, but could enter more than once during the three weeks. Wendy Larson, an Austin Page Turners member, drew the names Tuesday.

Email newsletter signup

"The box was stuffed," she said.

Davis and nine other O'Brien fans will join him and Austin Page Turners members for lunch Monday. It's just one of the activities for O'Brien's visit to Austin.

Each year, the Austin Page Turners selects a book for the Austin area to read and discuss and sets up a day for the author to visit. O'Brien was born in Austin in 1946 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

The book offers readers different perspectives on the Vietnam War. Readers describe O'Brien's style as "unique" and "down to earth."

Davis, a language arts teacher at Austin High School, has her students read his work and said they like it because it's easy to read and addresses the subject of war in a new way.

"Anytime you get a different twist on something, it's incredible," Davis said.

Davis has found O'Brien's works to be inspiring. As an aspiring writer, she chose O'Brien for her master's exam at Mankato State University. She first read "The Things They Carried" 10 years ago and said it's her favorite of O'Brien's works.

"When I first read him, I really liked him," Davis said.

She plans to ask him if he's ever been approached to adapt the book into a screenplay, which authors inspired him and what process he went through to get his book published.

"I would like to also know where he came up with his style," Davis said. "Good writers usually have somebody they followed."

Barb Chromy, another winner, said she's looking forward to the lunch and said, luckily, she had the day off from her pharmacist job at the Albert Lea Medical Center.

"I was very happy," said Chromy, of Austin. "I've never met an author before."

Sharon Zaharris, of Austin, read the book about almost two weeks ago and found out Tuesday she won a spot at the lunch.

"I was looking forward to meeting with the author of this because the book was a thought-provoking war story from different perspectives that covered a number of different subjects," Zaharris said.

The 10 lunch winners, however, aren't the only area residents who will have a chance to meet O'Brien. From 2 to 2:30 p.m. Monday, he will meet with area high school students at AHS, who have been studying the author in their English classes. The faculty will then meet with him from 3 to 3:45 p.m.

O'Brien will give a free lecture at 7 p.m. in the Frank W. Bridges Theatre at Riverland Community College. He will take questions and autograph books afterward.

Belita Schindler, an Austin Page Turners member, said the people she has talked to are looking forward to the visit, even though the topic is serious.

"The book is a little heavier than some books written about war, but it's well-written," she said.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at cari.quam@austindailyherald.com