On October 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Blanco Book Bunch reading group will sponsor an Authors’ Day at the Blanco Library. The event is free and open to the public. Bring a brown-bag lunch; beverages and dessert will be provided.
Austin resident and graduate of Trinity College in San Antonio Karen Valby will discuss her documentary of small-town life in Utopia, Texas.
As Valby explained in an Austin American Statesman interview, she was living in Brooklyn and writing for Entertainment Weekly, when she was given the challenge of writing about a small town “with the smallest possible exposure to popular culture.”
A fellow Trinity alum came up with her hometown—Utopia, Texas—which, during her high school years, had only one shelf of videotapes at the local gas station. Originally Valby spent four days there for the article, which was well-received by readers because of the authentic portrayals of local residents such as the coffee-drinkers at the general store; Kathy, a mother with three sons in the Army; Kathy, the only African-American girl in the local high school; and Colter, a young man who can’t wait to shake the dust of Utopia off his heels but lacks the motivation to leave.
When Valby returned to Utopia to expand her article into a full-length book, the residents were less than glad to see her after reading her portrayals of them; however, they came around and allowed her to join the coffee-drinkers, who called her “Cricket,” for their early-morning discussions.
Valby calls her relationship with residents “complex.” “I’m not ashamed to say I kinda love these people. They are complicated and layered and messy and dear.”
Join the Blanco Book bunch on October 8 to hear more from Karen Valby.