Perhaps the biggest complaint about Mayor Hicklenlooper's first choice for the recently announced, fledgling One Book, One Denver campaign -- Leif Enger's Peace Like a River -- is that it's too easy, a bestseller chosen for its appeal to a wide literary palate. And besides, how does a small-town yarn set in rural Minnesota really do anything to unify a town like Denver, perched as it is between mountains and plains? Apples and oranges, moose and squirrel. What book would better suit the Denver mindset? Westword staffers tossed out a few choices. Mark Twain's Roughing It, an autobiographical and observant account of Twain's travels across the West, for one. Kent Haruf's Plainsong, another mild small-town prairie saga, at least takes place in Colorado, and our own Boulder ends up the final refuge for the God-fearing in Stephen King's The Stand. (Maybe they should have made a beeline for Colorado Springs? Whatever -- it's said that King started writing the book in Boulder, so that's where they land. The more lawless survivors in the Armageddon yarn, after all, shack up in Las Vegas.) And Annie Proulx's That Old Ace in the Hole is actually about a Denver man, though he finds his fortune in Texas. Still, Proulx's comic eye captures a distinctly Western experience, embellished by dust, cowpies and ranch wars.
In the end, the real point of Hickenlooper's mass book club is to get people reading -- and talking about -- books. So why not try this? Go read a book, any book. Then go talk about it. Whatever it is you choose, the Mile High City will stand a little taller for it.
For a complete listing of events taking place in March and April in conjunction with One Book, One Denver, log on to www.denvergov.org/onebook. -- Susan Froyd
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Iron Wine tests palates with creative pairings
Learn by sipping and snacking at tonight's Iron Wine 2004, a wine-and-food-pairing competition sponsored by local wine peddler Denver Cru. Iron Wine, a single-elimination tournament spread over nine months, tests the mettle of local wine distributors, who have to pair fifteen wines with five small plates of food created by the professional chefs at the Cook Street School of Fine Cooking. Everyone in attendance will have a chance to sample the offerings; afterward, six audience members will be randomly selected to judge the competition.
"I've been getting a lot of requests from people to hold a class on wine-and-food pairing, and I thought this would be a fun way to do it on an ongoing basis," says Denver Cru owner Wayne Dale. "We'll be giving lots of practical tips along the way."
Iron Wine 2004 will be held at the Cook Street school, 1937 Market Street; the next tasting takes place on Saturday, April 17. Tickets are $49, and because space is limited to 75 people, reservations are recommended. Make yours at 303-573-9463 or www.denvercru.com. -- Julie Dunn