Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Fountain of Nostalgia in Dayton, Ohio

After a flattering and informed introduction by C. David Bowman of Books & Co. (he called the anthology "a crisply edited treasure trove of intercultural adventure" and admitted he had stayed up to 6 a.m. reading it!), we had a lively reading for 17 people in Dayton, Ohio on Friday April 28. Anastasia had a reunion with her former Los Angeles housemate Annetta Major, who brought her mother and her grandmother -- a family which hails from former Ottoman Empire outpost Macedonia. Sharing their own memories of Turkey were husband and wife Dave and Matty who were once attached to the U.S. military in Ankara 1979-1981 (they bought books for Matty's book club and a retirement facility where Dave now works, and suggested that the collection is a perfect primer for military families preparing for Turkey postings); Lynette, whose daughter we met earlier in the day at Dayton Mall and convinced us of the six degrees of separation every American has with Turkey when she revealed that her mother worked for the U.S. Department of Defense in Ankara and Karamürsel in the 1970s and her father was in the U.S. airforce at Turkey's İncirlik base; and a librarian from the Claymont Library of Uhrichsville, Ohio, who purchased a copy for its collection. We also were pleased to meet a member of the Dayton Turkish community, pianist Tiraje Guneyman Ruckman, who moved from İstanbul to the USA in 1970 to study music at Juilliard, where she met her American husband. A misty-eyed Tiraje said she thought "Expat Harem was a wonderful book, presenting so many facets of Turkish life in an honest, truthful way". When she got home from the reading she wrote to tell us that "it just felt good to hear some positive stuff for a change about Turkey rather than all the stereotypical falsehoods."

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