Cayuga Community College will host four free events as part of the 2010 Cayuga Reads book discussion program. A joint project of librarians and educators in Cayuga County, Cayuga Reads offers the community a selected title every year for reading and group discussion.
This year, instead of a single book, the program features three versions of a famous story with local ties. The titles chosen for 2010 are An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited by Craig Brandon.
The first book is a 1925 novel based on a fatal love triangle that made national headlines in 1906. The second, published in 2004, recasts the event as historical fiction for young adults. The third, published in 1986 and released in a new edition in 2006, is a nonfiction account including more than 100 photos.
All three books are available at area bookstores and libraries, including those at both Cayuga Community College campuses.
The real-life character at the center of each tale is Chester Gillette, a young worker in his uncle's Cortland, N.Y., factory who aspires to move up in society. When his secret trysts with coworker Grace Brown – forbidden by company rules – lead to her pregnancy, Brown pressures Gillette to marry her. He remains evasive, while rumors swirl about his liaison with a socialite to whom he plans to propose. Taking Brown to a summer resort in the Adirondacks, seemingly to elope, Gillette rents a boat under an alias. During their outing on the lake, the boat capsizes, Gillette swims to shore and Brown drowns. He claims innocence but circumstantial evidence mounts against him. Found guilty by a jury, Gillette is executed in the electric chair at Auburn Prison in 1908 at the age of 24.
The 1951 movie A Place in the Sun offered yet another dramatization, starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters. Directed by George Stevens, the film won six Academy Awards and will be shown in a free screening as part of Cayuga Reads.
Plans for this year's Cayuga Reads program include these free public events at the Auburn campus of Cayuga Community College:
- Film Screening: A Place in the Sun, Bisgrove Community Theatre, Thursday, September 30, 7:00 p.m.
- Featured Books: Discussion, Norman F. Bourke Memorial Library, Tuesday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.
- Lecture by Craig Brandon, author of Murder in the Adirondacks, Bisgrove Community Theatre, Wednesday, October 13, 7:00 p.m.
- Featured Books: Discussion, Norman F. Bourke Memorial Library, Friday, October 22, 11:00 a.m.