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'Paonia Reads' encourages winter reading

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"Paonia Reads" wants to encourage everyone to read during the winter months.

Paonia Reads is a collaboration between the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, Delta County Libraries and the Paradise Theatre. For its inaugural event, Paonia Reads encourages all Paonia adults and high school students to read Sherman Alexie's book, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" during the months of December and January. On Jan. 28, the Paradise Theatre will show "Smoke Signals," a movie whose characters and events are very similar to the book.

Comparing and contrasting the movie and the book has been the subject of numerous debates and college papers. The book of 24 tales was originally published in 1993 and received a Special Citation for the PEN/Hemingway Special Citation Award for Best First Fiction. Considered an instant classic, the book of 24 linked tales "weaves memory, fantasy and stark reality to powerfully evoke life on the Spokane Indian Reservation." The Boston Globe says: "Alexie's prose startles and dazzles with unexpected, impossible-to-anticipate moves. These are cultural love stories, and we laugh on every page with a fist tight around our hearts."

Alexi also wrote the screenplay for "Smoke Signals," an independent film released in 1998. It is described as a "humorous yet serious story about Victor, a young man who director Chris Eyre describes as 'trying to forgive his father.' The movie gives us a glimpse into the contemporary Native American world, and is created by an almost exclusively Native American cast."

Paonia Reads aims to spark conversation and inspire new perspectives about the stories. The book is available for checkout at the Paonia Library, with copies for teenagers available at Paonia High School. "Browsing copies" are also available at local venues and as a Kindle book from Amazon.

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