A seed planted in Creative Writing Program Director Lawrence Coates’s mind while he was researching his first book has grown into his latest, and third, work of historical fiction. Published Feb. 28 by University of Nevada Press, The Garden of the World follows the fortunes of the Tourneau family of vintners in California’s Santa Clara Valley in the early part of the century.
Despite its Eden-like setting, The Garden of the World, as its title implies, is rooted in earthly passions and trials. The novel opens in 1907, when a phylloxera root louse outbreak has withered all the grapevines growing in the region’s steep, rocky soil, and vintners are tearing out their vines. Defeated, many chose not to replant, but — obsessed with growing and making wine — Tourneau family patriarch Paul perseveres.
“He is ruthless in his pursuit of something great. He is a true American type, and that’s the story I wanted to tell,” said Coates. He was inspired to create Tourneau by an incident concerning a real-life, equally driven immigrant wine maker in California, the famous Paul Masson.
As in his previous novels, Coates reveals the social strata of the time and place, including the Mexican families who fled revolutionary upheaval and now follow the harvest in California for a living. His research led to many hours in the Napa and Sonoma Valley archives learning about the vintner’s process.
Coates’s ties to California run deep. He grew up in El Cerrito, and much of his work is set around Saratoga, where his grandfather was the last village blacksmith. Both the prize-winning The Blossom Festival and his second novel, The Master of Monterey, were set in historical California.
He will be reading from and signing copies of The Garden of the World on March 30, as part of the Primavera Gala sponsored by the Medici Circle at BGSU. The book is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Events and information In Brief
Get details on donating to help the families of injured sorority sisters, plus news of the next Music at the Forefront performance, the Africana Studies Conference (lunch reservations due today), and an intriguing conference on manipulation. All In Brief.
Leadership Institute members study their complex task, designed to utilize the skills they have learned.
Classified staff celebrates leadership skills
After several months of self-discovery, skills development and networking, the classified staff cohort of the Bowling Green Leadership Institute culminated March 7 with daylong closing activities in the Sebo Center.
“It’s given us a lot to think about and bring back to our offices,” said Violet Serrato, property shipping and receiving.
As part of the institute, the cohort discussed “hot topics” such as student retention and how to apply leadership skills to supporting the University.
Led by former BGSU leadership expert Bryan Cavins, the group in its closing session put some of the things they’ve learned into practice during a complex exercise involving maneuvering a large “sunburst” rope arrangement down a hall and through a narrow doorway without dropping the ball supported in its center.
In a discussion afterward, members reflected on how the exercise captured some of the concepts they had learned throughout the institute, including planning, communication, cooperation, positive attitude and trust in one’s team members.
“I thought it was somewhat metaphorical that those of us who made it through the door first needed to wait for the rest of us to make it through,” said Kathleen Newman, Office of Service-Learning.
Cavins also counseled members not hesitate to reach out to one another for information and guidance, making use of the strong network they have formed.
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