On the rainy evening of May 6, approximately 185 patrons enjoyed a special visit by author Ann Patchett at Fallbrook Library. While noise and food are not usually allowed in a library, this was an exception as the occasion was the main event for this year’s Community Read program, a sold-out first time evening affair hosted by Friends of the Fallbrook Library (FOFL).
Sweet and savory food, created by Caterer’s Kitchen, was provided along with coffee, orange juice and wine. The food had to be placed inside because of the stormy weather, which disappointed Community Read program director Mary Jo Bacik.
Bacik said, “I was looking forward to watching people enjoy the two patios, especially the inside reading garden, where local artist Peter Mitten sculptures were just recently put on display, and where the Fallbrook Garden Club has been diligently caring for the potted succulents.
“But I was won over by seeing guests, with glass in hand, enjoying the warmth from the rarely lit fireplace, mingling with the author, and enjoying, after hours, our much-loved library,” Bacik added.
The author was very approachable, chatting with everyone who lined up to have her sign one of her books. Because her father and stepmother moved to Fallbrook in 1999, Patchett has been to Fallbrook several times since then and knows quite a few residents as well as the place.
When asked what she thinks of Fallbrook’s library, she replied, “I love this library; it’s my little sister because my mom (Jerri Patchett) was so involved [in getting it built].” To support the library, she waved her usual fee for an appearance.
In introducing Patchett before the main presentation, Bacik said, “I believe Fallbrook considers her one of our own, Fallbrook’s adopted daughter.” Patchett said, “Community Reads are terrific things. I do a lot of [them] and Freshman Class Reads, it has to do with my father…I write about characters who don’t swear or have sex…”
She said writing a novel is like therapy. About “Commonwealth”, she explained that she had come to the realization that “I write the same story over and over. Two groups of people thrown together against their choices to form a society/family…it has something to do with my childhood.”
She grew up with a sister and four step-siblings, and finally decided that “if I wrote something closer to home, I could free myself of this story.” The events in the book did not actually happen, she clarified, “but the emotions are true.”
Patchett also talked about her bookstore in Nashville, Parnassus Books, which is making money. “Fallbrook should have a bookstore,” she advised. She proceeded to talk about the kinds of books she reads and recommended several of them. A list of those books can be found at http://fallbrooklibraryfriends.org/.
As an engaging speaker, her very entertaining talk included questions and answers. So, the audience learned that she has three more books in progress and she does not have a routine for writing. “It depends on where I am in the process. I’m a poor starter and a strong finisher like a horse that see the barn,” she said.
Patchett’s talk was the highlight of the evening and followed by pledges from audience members to help with the goal of $19,000 to pay for new patio furniture which is needed to replace the pieces that are worn out from heavy use.
Fundraising efforts organized by the Friends of the Fallbrook Library also included a mini-bookstore of Ann Patchett books set up by Barnes & Noble (a percentage of sales went to the library) and a drawing for several items, including a lap quilt designed to match the cover of the Community Read selection “Commonwealth”, commemorative book marks, a selection of first edition signed Ann Patchett books, and an orange tree donated by Durling Nursery. [For those who haven’t read the book, an orange tree plays a significant part in the story.]
While the fundraiser did not meet its monetary goal, the event did create a sense of community, which makes the 14th Annual Community Read a big success.