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One Book, One New Paltz to open third chapter

Bless me UltimaOnce again, the campus and local community will gather for the One Book, One New Paltz program.

The third installment of the community-based reading program is operating under the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program, The Big Read.

This year, all of New Paltz will be reading "Bless Me Ultima," a coming-of-age story set in 1940s New Mexico by Rudolfo Anaya, and discussing and celebrating the book at a variety of events being held on campus and in the community throughout the month of November.

"This project is a fantastic way for people to motivate themselves to take the time to read, maybe get to know each other a little better, and really help build an even more collegial college community here in New Paltz," said Celeste Cleary, publicity coordinator for One Book and a New Paltz resident.

The One Book, One New Paltz program was launched three years ago by the Office of the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This year, the program received an $8,200 grant from the NEA as a Big Read participant. New Paltz was one of 117 cities that were awarded grants to produce celebrations of American literature from September through December 2007. The federal grant was matched by the dean's office and Campus Auxiliary Services.

The local community has embraced the program. The Village of New Paltz, the Town of New Paltz and Ulster County have all proclaimed November as "Big Read Month."

Following a teaser production on Oct. 18, the month-long series of events will open on Nov. 2 with two events. First, Susan Aberth, a professor at Bard College, will give a presentation on Day of the Dead traditions at 5 p.m. at the Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz. Second, a reception for an exhibition of Miguel Gandert's photographs of northern New Mexico (the setting of "Bless Me, Ultima") will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on campus. The exhibition will be on display until Dec. 9.

The Big Read of "Bless Me, Ultima" will include programs for readers of all ages. There will be film screenings, puppet theater, storytelling workshops, Latin dance instruction, music performances and more than more than 15 other events focusing on upon the themes and context of the book. All events are free and open to the public.

"I am delighted that our volunteer committee has been able to assemble such an extensive program for the One Book, One New Paltz program this year," said Gerald Benjamin, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and chair and founder of the One Book, One New Paltz project.

The campus will be joined by a number of local businesses and organizations in hosting events throughout the month of November.

All of the events have been organized by a committee of campus and community members.

A number of coffeehouse-style book discussions will be held at such locations as La Ninnola Café, the Muddy Cup, St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Inquiring Minds Bookstore, 60 Main Cultural Collective and the Jewish Community Center. Also, book discussions conducted in Spanish will be held at Elting Memorial Library.

» View a complete schedule of events. .