News

November 20, 2012
 

QC’s Evening Readings kicks off its new season


Known for his literary expertise and thoughtful book reviews, when interviewer Leonard Lopate asked critic, James Wood to showcase his finger drumming, the audience could not help but laugh.

More than 400 people at the LeFrak Concert Hall were not sure if Wood or Lopate were being entirely serious.

As Wood began to think, twitch his fingers and readjust the mic, Teju Cole spoke: “Can I just say how happy I am that the African is not the one drumming for us tonight?”

Music, race, privilege and literary influences were just a few of the topics discussed by writers James Wood and Teju Cole as Queens College’s Evening Readings series kicked off its new season on Nov. 13.

Founder of the series, Joe Cuomo, introduced each writer and praised them for their ability to “reinvent character, reinvent form and reinvent self.” He even compared Cole to Gustave Flaubert.

Wood is a literary critic who teaches at Harvard and writes for The New Yorker. “The Fun Stuff,” a collection of his essays where he discusses authors from George Orwell to Cormac McCarthy, was published this past October. This was his fifth appearance on the Evening Readings stage since its launch 36 years ago.

Wood praised Cole’s novel, “Open City,” about a Nigerian immigrant graduate student, living in New York City who tries navigating himself in a post-9/11 world.

As Lopate and Wood analyzed and dissected phrases from the novel, Cole sat in the middle both amused and humbled.

“It’s like you’ve got two leopards and I’m the baby goat,” Cole said. He was delighted that Wood even read his “small book.”

“You know, Teju said it was thrilling to get [my] review, but it is much more thrilling to get the book,” Wood said.

Cole is a Nigerian-American writer, art historian and photographer. With both his writing and photography, he tries to capture the perfect image, despite believing that they both “depend on chance.” To him, you cannot plan to capture a thought or a feeling, sometimes it just happens.

“Capturing images in writing feel too direct, so photography is a relief. It’s not quite as explicit and it’s not a first person decision,” Cole said.

Both writers read from their works, with Cole reading a passage from his novel where the main character, Julius, flies over New York City and thinks of the majestic World Trade Center now gone from the skyline.

Wood read a deeply personal essay on his experience going through and packing away his father-in-law’s bookshelf following his death. The prose haunting and private, forced the audience to a stillness as he read aloud.

Discussions on race and privilege followed as Lopate asked Cole and Wood to discuss instances of prejudice Julius faces and sometimes perpetuates.

As Cole and Wood joked throughout the evening, at its end, Lopate mentioned a YouTube video where Wood is performing an intense finger drum solo for his children. When asked to play one for the audience, Wood happily obliged.

“There’s something primal, childish—vandalistic even—about drumming,” Wood said, citing Keith Moon of The Who as one of his influences.

His 45-second drum solo elicited applause from the audience.

This event was originally the second Evening Readings planned for the 37th season. Playwright Edward Albee was scheduled to appear at the college on Oct. 30, but due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the reading has been rescheduled to March 5.



About the Author

Amna Shams
Amna Shams is a Women’s Studies major/Journalism minor, who covers the evening readings beat for the Knight News, and hopes her work inspires change. She is also our Copy Chief and a grammar guru! She not only aspires to work for a magazine or newspaper, but with women’s organizations and deaf children as well, inspiring them to find their own passion. She enjoys reading, building Legos, and collecting quotes.



Advertisement
 
 

 
 

Panel stresses need and support of women in STEM fields

The Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding hosted an event titled Women and the Sciences March 11. A panel of women including CUNY students and professors discussed the challenges women face in STEM, an acronym f...
by Candice Samuels
 

 
 
Photo by Brandon Jordan

SFC candidate hopes to give back to QC community

Christopher Labial describes his youthful self as a “military brat.” Growing up in a military family, he went to international school and first studied in the U.S. in 2008 at Benjamin Cardozo High School. Now he is the Pres...
by Brandon Jordan
 

 
 
Photo by Brandon Jordan

IA candidate challenges incumbent party over policies and transparency

Junior Mohammed Hassan is the presidential nominee of Independent Alliance, which was formed last April by students and former members and officials of Students for Change and United People, to create major changes on campus. ...
by Brandon Jordan
 

 

 
Photo by Amanda Goldstein
On March 22, the MTA increased the fare from Metrocards from $2.50 to $2.75

MTA increases fare despite public outcry

The MTA increased subway and bus fares by a quarter on March 22, making the per-ride cost rise to $2.75. The Queens College campus, located in one of the most diverse boroughs of New York, is a well-known commuter school where ...
by Yarah Shabana
 

 
Advertisement
 
Photo courtesy of Victoria Tan
The mock trial team at Queens College is both a competitive, yet fun activity to do, according to the team members.

Mock trial team sets the bar high in court competitions

The Queens College Mock Trial, formed in 2013, enables students to learn how to argue cases, examine and cross-examine witnesses and be comfortable in the courtroom setting. Although the trial is simulated, the knowledge gained...
by Philipp Regala
 

 




Advertisement