02/24/04 — Wayne County Reads update

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Wayne County Reads update

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 24, 2004 1:58 PM

Lola Delbridge was too busy raising three children to read "To Kill A Mockingbird" when it first came out, and she never found time over the next decades.

But the "Wayne County Reads" project prodded her to open the novel. Once she did, she couldn't close it, she said.

"It really captures a time of life that I could relate to," Mrs. Delbridge said Monday night. "The characters remind me of people I had known growing up."

She remembers wondering as a child why blacks were treated differently from whites. That's why the character Atticus Finch -- "one person trying to set things right" -- is so appealing, she said.

For Stella Amaefule, the book has been a portal to a time about which she knew little. "Things must have changed a lot," said Ms. Amaefule, who's lived in the United States for 11 years.

A Nigeria native, she has struggled a bit with the novel because it includes so much slang and dialect.

"I need someone to interpret and translate a few things," she said with a laugh. "It is really fun."

The two women's stories are the type that "Wayne County Reads" organizers like to hear. More than seven weeks after the kickoff, hundreds of people have checked out the novel from Wayne County libraries, while others have bought their own copies.

The library had borrowed 135 copies for the project. They were all checked out within days of the Jan. 12 kickoff, and a waiting list was needed for a few weeks.

The libraries have some of those books back in stock now. In addition, the system bought large-print editions and videos for each branch, which arrived this week.

About 50 people attended a discussion of the 1962 movie adaptation of "To Kill A Mockingbird," at Wayne Community College on Monday night.

Geoff Weiss, an assistant professor at Mount Olive College, compared how the filmmakers treated the characters "Bob Ewell" and "Boo Radley." They were similar to classical Universal Studios characters like "Frankenstein" or the "Wolf Man." He showed clips from both types of movies to compare lighting, music and camera angles.

In a way, Boo Radley is portrayed as the type of monster that is human inside, like a werewolf, Weiss said. In contrast, Bob Ewell is unrepentant evil, more like a vampire.

Weiss praised the acting performance of Gregory Peck, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of "Atticus," and the brief screen time given Robert Duvall, who was "Boo."

"I had forgotten how good this movie is," Weiss said.

The next "Wayne County Reads" event is "When the Mockingbird Landed," an exhibit looking at local, state and national events at the time of the book's publication. It will open Thursday at the Wayne County Museum.

"Wayne County Reads" was organized by representatives of the county library system, Wayne County public schools, Mount Olive College, Wayne Community College and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, among others.