Buffalo Book Store Talking Leaves to Host Reading/Signing for Fiction by Zlotchew April 27

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Talking Leaves Books, the oldest independent book store in Buffalo, a popular gathering place for Buffalo’s vibrant arts community, announces its hosting a reading/signing for Clark Zlotchew’s seventeenth book, Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties, at the store at 3158 Main Street, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 7:00 P.M. This collection of short stories, set against the background of the 1950s, contains adventure on the high seas, a glimpse of Havana night life on the eve of the Castro Revolution and segregation in the Deep South. The stories deal with love and death, triumphs and defeats, adolescent angst and the tension between ethnicity and assimilation. See http://www.clarkzlotchew.com.

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a treasure-trove of small -- but highly polished -- literary gems of great depth and variety.

Talking Leaves Books, the oldest independent book store in Buffalo, a popular gathering place for Buffalo’s vibrant arts community, announces its hosting a reading/signing for Clark Zlotchew’s seventeenth book, Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties, at the store at 3158 Main Street, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 7:00 P.M. This collection of short stories, set against the background of the 1950s, deals with love and death, triumphs and defeats, adolescent angst and the tension between ethnicity and assimilation. Some present adventure on the high seas as well as a glimpse of Havana night life on the eve of the Castro Revolution. See http://www.clarkzlotchew.com.

The seventeen narratives in this collection include a wide variety of situations, but are held together by taking place in the vanished civilization of the 1950s. This is an era etched in the soul of those who lived through the 195Os. The book also opens the eyes and the imagination of their children and grandchildren, to whom this lost civilization will appear quaintly alien on the surface, but intensely familiar on a more profound level. Many of the elements of this culture will repel: racism, sexism and homophobia, for example. Yet this was an era in which the threat of terrorism did not exist for the average American. The plagues of AIDS, Ebola and SARS were unheard of, and penicillin was the magic elixir that would cure whatever ills presented themselves.

Zlotchew says “It was a world in some ways more cruel, more demanding, less forgiving. In other ways it was safer, more secure, more comfortable. It certainly was different from the present.” He adds, “ Yet, our basic nature has remained unchanged since humans became humans. The deepest of needs, beyond basic sustenance –love, sex, respect, self-esteem, power— always lie just below the surface as motivating forces. It is only the physical, political, social and moral strictures --fleeting conditions that channel those primary drives-- that change. “

Ex libris (Amazon reviewer) says (in part):
“Once Upon A Decade is a treasure-trove of small -- but highly polished -- literary gems of great depth and variety. The author seems capable of creating whatever mood he wishes, sympathetic and not-so-sympathetic characters unusually richly drawn, evoking a complex web of emotions: tension and heartache, love, hope and beauty, longing, fear and loathing.”     “…[these stories] cannot easily be forgotten.”

The following was extracted from Karen Schechner, in Bookselling This Week,about Talking Leaves Books:
Talking Leaves Books began as a cooperative in Buffalo, New York, in 1975, when residents pooled their money to buy their community bookstore. The store has since morphed into a corporation owned by just two of the original 30 members. But, today, as much as ever, the bookstore relies on memberships -- of a different sort -- for its growth.

The co-op's founders, mostly Buffalo teachers and grad students, pooled about $20,000 to buy what was then called Everyman's Book Store from its owner, who was selling the four-year-old store to relocate to New York City. "We decided the bookstore shouldn't fall into the wrong hands," said Jonathon Welch, one of the original 30, who now owns the store with his wife, Martha Russell.

The moderately sized store stocks 80,000 titles. "People who've never been in here before often think we're a library," said Welch. "Almost every book is shelved spine out. Welch explained that the store was founded "on the principle that the book business was moving [away from] small presses and serious fiction.... Our goal was to be a place where people go to find serious fiction, poetry, and political books. The books other bookstores weren't carrying." That philosophy, which has remained a constant, has "probably sustained us more than anything else," he said. "We've carved out a place." --Karen Schechner (End of Bookselling This Week article.)

Dr. Zlotchew experienced the 1950s when he was in his twenties, and has vivid memories of conditions at that time. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve at age 17 and received his Honorable Discharge as Chief Petty Officer at the age of 33 . He has worked in the export department of a large liquor manufacturer, taught high school Spanish, was Director of a New York State educational program for Spanish-speaking seasonal workers, and is currently Distinguished Teaching Professor of Spanish and Spanish-American literature with the State University of New York. The sea-going adventures in Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties, reflect Zlotchew’s own experiences with the Naval Reserves.

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