A review of The Submission by Amy Waldman,

I enjoy author events where authors read from their newly published works.  In the Q&A authors are asked about their process.  I always learn something that adds a perspective for my reader self. 

When buying the book, even when unsure that I will read it through, I still get to be a patron of the arts for only $20.00 or so.

Truth is, I don’t read many books.  My budget of reading hours gets used up on internet newsletters, forums, and blogs.  Sometimes I stumble across a whirlpool of magazines, and I get caught in the eddies for a few hours.

When I found my way to the October meeting of the Atlanta Writers Club, I was rewarded with a reading of The Submission by Amy Waldman.  Published in March of 2012, it has collected some heady kudos, and I found it a provocative read.

The book is set in New York two years after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, and the story begins as a jury is in final deliberations for the selection of a memorial to be erected at ground zero.  When the selection majority is reached, the envelope containing the name of the designer of the winning submission is opened:  Mohamed Khan, a Muslim.  And on this hangs the tale. 

The Submission examines grief through the eyes and hearts of dozens of people.  Readers are lured into the minds of dozens of agendas.  The book tugs at emotions of survivors.

Waldman winds her way through a tangled web of dialogues, interactions, and hidden agendas.  Her characters speak the words of the total spectrum of points of view.  Emotions peal from bell towers.  Convictions line up like cannons.

Aside from the good quality yarn-spinning of the story lines, my takeaway was a restatement of one of my oldest operating principles.  What people think of as Truth is so heavily influenced by their personal environment, their family/community/national/religious culture, that there is no Truth in any universal sense—merely what feels right to each individual.

Facts are easier to pin down, although they are subject to manipulation.

Truth is fact as interpreted (manipulated) by someone and often adopted by others..

Justice is . . .  don’t get me started.



About allevenson

Writer (of stories, journals, email dialogues), Reader (of books written by friends, recommended by friends, and works-in-progress of friends), Hiker (never met a trailhead I didn't like), Biker (more scenery for the buck than hiking) and lately, Blogger (about my Year on the Road at www.allevenson.wordpress.com).
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9 Responses to A review of The Submission by Amy Waldman,

  1. Dave Bauer says:

    Welcome back to the world of virtual reality, Al. It appears that, like the bears inhabiting the Maine woods, you too are awakening from a winter hibernation with the lengthening days and warmer temperatures. Are you hungry for some chowda? It’s good to hear from you again in your blog.

    As you may know, your statement, “That there is no Truth in any universal sense—merely what feels right to each individual,” is an expression of situational morality and more generally of post-modern philosophy, both of which have emerged in late 20th and early 21st Century Western Culture. We live in a culture today having no absolutes, which is a circumstance that has shaken the very foundations of modernism and of modern science as well. For the individual, post-modernism has challenged the creation of a personal identity, so that the person changes chameleon like to fit the situation at hand. A social scientist who has written on the consequences of this complex cultural trend is Kenneth Gergen at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia .(1)

    Once again, it is good to have you back in the saddle. Thank you for creating a thought provoking blog.

    (1) Gergen, K. (1991). The saturated self: dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.

  2. Debby Frisch says:

    Your review of The Submission is so complete and at the same time so intriguing. I intend to read the book, now that I’ve read this.

  3. jkroyce says:

    Like you, I find myself struggling to find time to read. Other writing duties eat up so much time. Your review of The Submission entices me to make it the exception. The premise is fascinating and your description compelling.

  4. Colleen Rae says:

    Thanks for your suggestion to read The Submission. I will definitely put it on my reading list.

  5. Colleen Rae says:

    And I too, am glad you are back on your blog. I look forward to your comments and thoughts monthly.

    • allevenson says:

      I think it may have something to end with the approach of winter’s end. I think I was bitten by SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is well-documented. Fewer daylight hours and depressed temps turned the brains and body this tropical beachcomber wannabe into sludge and sloth. I had persuaded myself that I was missing the inspiration of the road, the odd characters, the hidden places, the sheer scenic beauty–that absent these prompts my writer/commentator part of my brain went on holiday. Maybe that was part of it, surely Andre the Seal was a nudge, but two book reviews could have been inspired my muse regardless of the season. I’ll try to be on guard for SAD next year and will try to get back to a more frequent schedule. I miss the blog and and miss you Dave L, Dave B., Dave S, Karen W, as well as the more occasional chimers-in who share their thoughts at least as much as anyone misses me.

  6. Lew says:

    Gee, I just stumbled across the ‘new’ blog, some eight months after initiation. Can I blame that on SAD too. Actually my first thought was to wonder if you (and I) have some kinship with Amy Waldman. One of our great grandmothers being Rebakah Waldman.

    Even with the hiatus in your blogging you have produced a lot more consistently than I have, still futzing around with some kind of memoir of my own.

    Glad you’ve started this Year on the Road #2.

    I do think its easier to capture experience-by-experience while its still fresh in your mind that to try to capture the family history that doesn’t seem to be of interest to anyone but of few of us that still survive.

    Grandchildren have different histories. I would be interested in THEIR views or recollections of the years and experiences that won’t even find their way into the memories that I am trying to capture.

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