Archive for the ‘architecture’ Tag

Family Pride   2 comments

This week my younger brother reaches a milestone birthday. Late last year he published
a book. Both of these events are significant, but it’s the latter that makes me exceptionally
proud and very jealous. He wrote a book! And it’s published! Although I have the copy he
gave me, when I saw the book  in a bookstore, I was thrilled beyond words – so I took a
photo.

Once I decided to start my blog I knew I did not want to review meals made by friends or
myself, and I thought I should not review books written by friends or family members. I
didn’t really think the issue would arise regarding books by people I know; but it has, and
I feel the same. I don’t want to review my brother’s book because of my background as a
journalist and my, perhaps misplaced, desire for objectivity. I can say with all sincerity he
has written an attractive, informative book about architect Wallace Neff whose fascinating
building process involved the use of balloons and concrete. I’d never heard of this before.
I can say the book is well-researched and well-written. But I can’t, I won’t, rate it because
to say I love it could be misconstrued as sisterly-love-induced bias. Conversely, if I say I
despise it that could be chalked up to good old fashioned sibling rivalry. I don’t hate it, and
I do love my brother.

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey! Keep writing. You make me envious – and proud!

No Nails, No Lumber: The Bubble Houses of Wallace Neff
By Jeffrey Head
Princeton Architectural Press, 2011
176 pages

Blueprints of Intolerance   Leave a comment

The word submission has multiple meanings, and all find their way
into Amy Waldman’s The Submission. On its surface, the reference
is to the design proposal for a 9/11 Memorial; subsequent insinuat-
ions include compliance, obedience and capitulation – among others
– as associated with religion, politics, marriage, relationships, em-
ployment: in other words, life.

Waldman’s finely woven novel begins with a committee charged
with selecting a memorial design. As the jury argues the merits of
one proposal over another, the most vocal advocate for one in parti-
cular is Claire, a widow representing the families who lost loved ones
in the World Trade Center. The initial conflict, however, is not what
creates the intrigue that results in turning the pages at an exception-
ally rapid rate; it’s the discovery that the selected memorial designer
is Mohamed Khan, a Muslim American.

The ripple effect evolves into a racial tsunami with politicians, report-
ers, other families directly affected by 9/11, and extremist organiza-
tions. Waldman raises questions that have no easy answers. Just as
the characters ask themselves how to best deal with this difficult
situation, the issues confront the reader as well. Emotions, values,
and preconceptions taint major and minor players alike.

The passage of ten years has not diminished the image of the twin
towers in flames, or other indelible impressions from that day.
Waldman’s portrait of the lingering aftermath demonstrates that
cultural and personal prejudices remain. Although the novel focuses
on New York City residents, it will resonate with American citizens
no matter where they live.

The Submission
Four-and-a-Half Bookmarks
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011
299 pages