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Book Discussions Focus Investigation on Oklahoma

The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will continue with “Letter from Home” by Carolyn Hart at 7 p.m. Sept. 23, in Walker Center room 151.

The discussion series is made possible through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council.

This year’s series is investigating crime novels that take place in Oklahoma. At each session in the five-part 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 selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at [email protected] or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207.

“Letter from Home” is about a young girl who becomes personally involved in a murder investigation. Set in the late 1990s, an elderly woman returns to her childhood home, a small northeastern Oklahoma town she hasn’t visited in more than 50 years. She muses on relatives and acquaintances past, and rereads passages from a letter that brought her there—a letter dealing with the murder of her best friend’s mother in the summer of 1944. The story unfolds as a series of flashbacks, each stimulated by a passage from her friend’s letter. As the woman remembers the events of the past, she looks forward to meeting her friend, who will finally divulge the full truth about the crime.

“Letter from Home” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and received the Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel of 2003. Publisher's Weekly named it one of the best books of 2003.

Winn, director of the Center for Interpersonal Study through Film & Literature at OCU, said the reading series moves beyond discussions of the story plotlines and into a cultural study of the places where the stories take place.

“Mystery and investigation stories find a ready home in Oklahoma and provide a window on the character of the state,” Winn said. “Though mainstream novels may evoke only scant physical description, crime stories and mysteries continue to include realistic location details, precisely because such details may help unravel the crime. In reading these novels, we can rediscover the joys of hearing and seeing people in their natural environment and learn something about how where they are may indicate who they are.”

Other dates and books in the series include:

Oct. 7 — “Capitol Offense” by William Bernhardt

Oct. 28 — “Twisted Perception” by Bob Avey

Nov. 11 — “The American Café” by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

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