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Book Discussion Series Reveals ‘Secrets’

The “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will close with  Secrets of the Tsil Café” by Thomas Fox Averill at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Walker Center for Arts and Sciences room 151 at N.W. 26th Street and Florida Avenue.

The series is funded by grants from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Secrets of the Tsil Café”  is a novel about a character named Wes who lives with his parents above the café where his father cooks and serves aggressively hot dishes using only ingredients known in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus—“ingredients of the New World cooked New Mexico style.” In the upstairs kitchen, Wes’s mother runs a successful catering business with an approach to customers–and to life–that is a polar opposite to her husband’s. Often confused and conflicted, caught between his parents, Wes reflects: “I grew up with their arguments about taste, function, nutrition, spice, form, and life. They loved it.”

The series’ food theme is titled “Much Depends on Dinner.” It is based on a quote in Byron’s “Don Juan” that states: “Since Eve ate the apple, much depends on dinner.”

“Our relationships with food are complex and convoluted,” said Harbour Winn, director of the Center for Interpersonal Study through Film and Literature at OCU. “What we eat can be a source of joy and delight, and of creative expression, as well as a reason for anguish, worry, dread and even fear. Nearly every aspect of our lives affects what we eat — politics, religion, economics, geography, culture and ethnicity, aesthetics, health and personal taste.

“As a species, we have elevated many of our basic needs to an expression of who we are, what we believe, how we interact with our environments, and how we communicate and express ourselves. Food is no exception.”

Modern language professor Mark Griffin will facilitate “Secrets of the Tsil Café” book discussion. At each session in the series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to preregister and borrow the reading selection and theme brochure by calling Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207.