Guys, dolls and apples at the Writers and Books Scavenger Hunt for Rochester Reads

Guys, dolls and apples at the Writers and Books Scavenger Hunt for Rochester Reads

The Barrel of Dolls, Rochester, NY 2/5/16 [Photo:David Kramer]

As Talker was promoting Writers and Book’s Karen VanMeenen’s 16 year run as Rochester’s Uber-Reader-Leader and the evening’s First Friday scavenger hunt kicking off this year’s Rochester Reads program, we fully expected a complimentary copy of The Queen of the Fall.

But like Queen Cleopatra herself to a court eunuch, Ms. VanMeenen prompted me to scavenge myself. Your command is my destiny, said this Marc Antony. And the quest was underway.

The premise was that at 10 First Friday venues a foam apple had been cleverly hidden.  Whoever found and returned the forbidden fruit to W&B headquarters by the end of the night received a free copy of The Queen of the Fall, this year’s Rochester Reads selection.


“Lynne, I don’t (gulp) know (err) what you’re talking about?” [Photo: Lynne Feldman] 2/5/16

Photo: Lynn Feldman 2/5/16

Photo: Lynn Feldman 2/5/16

First stop was Lynne Feldman’s studio where we’ve been before.

There, in the Anderson Arts Building, a delightful quartet was playing as we admired Lynn’s collage homages.

Happily, Lynne informed us that the apple had not yet been discovered.  Temptingly, she even pointed to its hiding place.  But, alas, this Eve said it would not be kosher for me to take the apple. When Lynne wasn’t looking, I tried to hide the fruit in my mouth. But was caught red handed!

From that debacle, we trekked to Axiom. Foiled as a previous prospecting team had already hit red gold!

It was suggested we try across the street.  Interestingly across the street is The Barrel of Dolls. Not realizing this fine establishment was also on the scavenger hunt trail, we eagerly sought those apples or cherries. And found them!


The Barrel of Dolls, Rochester, NY 2/5/16

Returning to headquarters — empty handed as it were — I was pleasantly surprised that Karen did not object to the Doll photos.  As she explained, and unbeknownst to me, The Barrel is referenced in The Queen of the Fall. Hence, its inclusion is altogether fitting and proper.


Karen, knock next time! I’ll put the apples back when I am done. And, yes, I confess I am a closet reader! [Photo: Karen VanMeenen] 2/5/16


Free to be me and read at last. Thank you, Karen, for saving me from myself. [Photo: Karen VanMeenen] 2/5/16


Kindly we did not include the shot in which the apple was DROPPED. 2/5/16

At headquarters, we had a small problem when I was caught stealing a book. And I had to eat sour grapes when an actual winner claimed her prize. And a juggling fool taunted me with even more apples.


Being paid for my short story submission. 2/5/16

The evening did end on an upbeat note. I wrote and submitted a 36 word short story to The 35 Word Story Contest on a (fictional) trip a (fictional) character once took to a (fictional) Barrel of Dolls.  Unless the judges prove incorruptible, I stand a fair chance of winning.


Right, like she didn’t just buy the foam apple at the Dollar Store. 2/5/16


Guess what I found? (At the Book Trade Box outside W & B) 2/5/16


Hello, 9-1-1, I need to report some missing apples! (Outside W & B) 2/5/16

Oh, you are wondering what is Rochester Reads?  Here from Karen:

The goal of Rochester Reads is to select a single book each year that will spark discussion and inspire related events across the community. We aim to bring people together to talk about real-world issues and their own experiences, even if the book is categorized as fiction.

This year’s selection, Queen of the Fall: A Memoir of Girls and Goddesses by Rochester native Sonja Livingston, is a collection of personal essays. The book explores coming of age as a woman in the 1980s and ‘90s in America, and connects the author’s own youth and young adulthood to history (think Susan B. Anthony), pop culture (Madonna, Ally McBeal, Land of the Lost), and faith, in a rich tapestry of memory and both individual and communal exploration.


Emotions recollected in tranquility on University Ave

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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