One Book selects a thriller for 2011

The One Book, One Mesa County selection this year is “Await Your Reply” by Dan Chaon. The Mesa County Public Library has a number of paperback copies of the book for patrons to borrow.

There’s a long-lost twin and a lonely, dried-up reservoir. There’s a college dropout and a father long presumed to be an uncle. There’s a recent high school graduate in flight with her former history teacher. There are twists and there are turns, and there is an unexplained house fire.

And it’s all in one book, the 2011 One Book, One Mesa County choice “Await Your Reply,” a 2009 thriller by Dan Chaon.

The choice of a thriller is something of a departure for the One Book, One Mesa County program, in which previous selections have included “Marley and Me,” “The Geography of Bliss” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

“We wanted to have a book that we had never tried before in the community,” said Lois Becker, development director for Mesa County Public Libraries.

She explained that the selection committee spent months poring through hundreds of options before voting on “Await Your Reply.”

“We have searched within ourselves what types of books and materials would be favored by a larger community rather than just a devoted book club community,” Becker explained. “We wanted to broaden the audience that comes into the library, and we wanted to broaden the audience of readers.”

Chaon’s novel addresses ideas about identity, ego and belonging. And the first page alone “has this scene on it that a lot of people just can’t get out of their heads,” Becker said. “Because it’s a thriller it does have a little bit more blood and guts than our usual choices.

“The goal here is not to try to please everybody, but at least to tempt them to take some time to read a different genre that they may not have ever read before. It’s so rich, and the complexity of the characters within the book is so deep. Identity theft is a piece of this book, the story of a journey and the discovery of an alter ego. It’s a fascinating story.”

Becker said library staff have planned many events in the upcoming months tied to One Book, One Mesa County and “Await Your Reply,” beginning Thursday with a launch event at the library. Other events include a panel discussion on alter egos and sidekicks; a screening of “Charade;” a meet-and-greet with a private investigator; a discussion with a philosophy professor on identity and self; and a visit from Chaon on March 5.

The library has many copies of the book available, Becker said, as well as audio versions and a downloadable e-book. There will be various discussion groups in the upcoming months, once people have had a chance to read the book.

“We want a community collectively reading the same book at the same time,” Becker said. “And we want people to have the opportunity to get involved with the library.”

For information about One Book, One Mesa County, go to or


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