Reading Together 2013 Blog

Visual Shock

Among the themes of this year’s Reading Together selection is the issue of public art and how communities respond to it. I recently came across this book in our collection and found it to be an interesting parallel. Kammen, a Pulitzer Prize winner for history,addresses the issue of public art from several angles, among them: Monuments, Memorials, and Americanism; Issues of Diversity and Inclusion; and The Dimensions and Dilemmas of Public Sculpture. In fact, one of the works chronicled in this latter chapter is Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse in Grand Rapids, erected in 1969. Kammen describes how the Grand Rapids community went from questioning the size and cost of the sculpture, as well as the artist’s nonexistent relationship with Michigan or even the midwest, to ultimately embracing the work. “Today the piece is truly beloved and has become the stimulus for everything from festivals to children’s design contests. Controversy gave way to an era of good feelings, as least in this instance.”

The book includes several photographs and detailed notes, as well as a comprehensive index.

Book

Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture

9781400041299

 

Karen S

Reading Together 2013

We are excited to launch the 2013 Reading Together website where you can learn everything you’ll need to know about the events coming up in March and April around the themes of The Submission by Amy Waldman. On this site, you’ll find details about each event, online resources, suggestions for further reading and viewing, and informational blog posts from members of our steering committee. In addition, we’ll maintain an up-to-the-minute calendar of book discussions for anyone looking to participate in one.

We look forward to bringing our community together once again to discuss some important issues including: public art and how it impacts communities; trust and identity; and the influence of media on our perceptions.

Book

The Submission
9781250007575
http://www.kpl.gov/reading-together/2013/
Karen S

About Amy Waldman

Amy Waldman was a reporter for The New York Times for eight years. She spent three years as co-chief of the South Asia bureau after covering Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the aftermath of 9/11. She was also a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where her stories included this look at Islam in the courts.

She has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and at the American Academy in Berlin. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review and The Atlantic, and was anthologized in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2010. She lives with her family in Brooklyn. (From the author’s website.)

Book

The Submission
9781250007575
Reading Together Steering Committee

About The Submission

Reimagining 9/11 and its aftermath, Amy Waldman’s provocative novel begins with a resonant scene: a jury gathers in Manhattan to choose a memorial for the victims of a devastating Islamic terrorist attack. After tense deliberations, they select the Garden, which features trees both living and made from salvaged steel. Then the jury discovers that the anonymous architect who created the winning design is an American Muslim.

The revelation triggers both fury and ambivalence throughout New York, making the designer, the staunchly independent Mohammed “Mo” Khan, a symbol of beliefs that seem foreign to him. His most visible defender is Claire Burwell, the only member of the selection committee who lost a loved one in the attack. Cool and eloquent, Claire grows increasingly frustrated by Mo as he stubbornly refuses to answer concerns about the origins or meaning of his design.

At the helm of the memorial project is Paul Rubin, a grandson of Jewish peasants who has risen to a position of influence and wealth. Paul’s idea of America is rooted in tolerance, but he must also take into account the emotions of outraged, grieving family members who want him to quash Mo’s design. Within the crowds, two powerful voices come to dominate the debate: the widow of an undocumented worker who cleaned offices champions Mo’s design, while the brother of a fallen firefighter calls it the worst kind of disrespect.

As the emotional rhetoric escalates, The Submission becomes a mesmerizing meditation on the human experience. (From the publisher.)

Book

The Submission
9781250007575
Reading Together Steering Committee