Great Imaginations was asked to be part of the Subway Love blog tour, and we gladly accepted because this book had such an original and interesting concept, and I (Kara) very much enjoyed reading it. If you love NYC, if you love books about time travel with a romantic element, I think you will probably enjoy this one. The author, Nora Raleigh Baskin, has written a guest post on the history and origin of graffiti and why she made it such a large part of her book.
But first, check out the book trailer, and after the post we have a prize pack of three Nora Raleigh Baskin books for giveaway. The giveaway is US only and provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press.
Synopsis: What if destiny leads you to your soul mate, but the laws of time conspire to keep you apart?
If her parents had never divorced, Laura wouldn’t have to live in the shadow of Bruce, her mom’s unpredictable boyfriend. Her mom wouldn’t say things like “Be groovy,” and Laura wouldn’t panic every weekend on the way to Dad’s Manhattan apartment. But when Laura spots a boy on a facing platform, lifting a camera to his face, looking right at her, Laura feels anything but afraid, and she can’t forget him. Jonas, meanwhile, thinks nonstop about the pretty hippie girl he glimpsed on the platform — trying to comprehend how she vanished, but mostly wondering whether he will see her again in a city of millions — and whether if he searches, he would have any chance of finding her. In a lyrical meditation on love, Nora Raleigh Baskin explores the soul’s ability to connect, and heal, outside the bounds of time and reason.
Buy the Book:
By Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of Subway Love
I have been interested in graffiti since I was thirteen years old and I was given a book of real graffiti collected from all over the world and from nearly the beginning of recorded history. (When I was doing my research for Subway Love, I was lucky enough to buy a used copy of Encyclopedia of Graffiti by Robert Reisner and Lorraine Weschsler, MacMillian, 1974.) I used to pour over the thousands of examples from explicitly sexual poems to pleas for love to political statements. And I would wonder endlessly about these strangers who “posted” their words on a fence or subway car or bathroom wall for all the world to see and then disappeared from history, hoping time would not erase them.
There was graffiti in ancient Rome and Egypt and Greece, and it pretty much served the same purpose then as it does now. It represents a counter culture, the voice of the unheard, the unpredictable and unaccepted. In many ways it is the undercurrent for all visual and written art. It is art in its most primitive and yet purest form, and because there is no reward or recognition for this work, it is often the most honest.
When I started this book, I knew I wanted to set the love story on a subway, and the New York City subways of my youth were covered in graffiti, top to bottom, inside and out. It was as familiar, and oddly comforting to me, as the sounds of a Manhattan street rising up and into my grandparents’ apartment window when I would spend the night.
The more research I did, the more interested and connected I became. I learned about the real underground artists of the subway, like Super Kool 223 and Tracy 168, Lady Pink and Zephyr. And I read about the photographers, such as Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, who made a career out of finding and capturing those images on film before they were destroyed. And they were destroyed, always, and usually very quickly after they were created.
Graffiti is illegal and so inherent in these wild colorful “masterpieces,” as they were called, was danger. What, if anything, does art do for our culture but call out to our deepest feelings and our greatest fears? In this way, graffiti excites, angers, entertains, and for better or worse, represents a part of our world.
It virtually demands to be seen and heard.
And as underground visual artists were put “out of business” by the stricter laws, increased police presence, and even the introduction of graffiti-resistant materials, the music version of this hip-hop subculture was on the rise: Rap. With the same revolutionary sensibility, the same use of a repeated tag to identify the artist as he wanted to be known; and in the same way as graffiti artist competed with one another with the newest styles of lettering and spray painting techniques, rappers join in free-style battles with the same loud, not-to-be ignored message: I am here. I am here to stay. And I am better than the guy before me.
So graffiti – because I needed something transient, defiant, but inextinguishable to symbolize the love between Jonas and Laura. I wanted something that defies the laws of, well, the law, and is erased before it is fully realized but never really gone.
Now for the giveaway!
No cheating. One email address per household, and I will be checking.
Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.