Patricia McDonnell Saves 'Angle of Repose'
I am Patricia McDonnell and I am director of the Wichita Art Museum.
I chose the one book that I could pull out of the fire of books: Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose, because it is this unfolding incredible epic about the settling of the West in the 19th century and it places the settling of the West against the sophistication and civilization of the East.
And it's also a book that weaves together many different narratives simultaneously. So it's the story of a husband and a wife, but it is also the story of one of their grandchildren who is a history professor but, recently divorced and on the outs from his university, he thinks as a way to resuscitate himself he'll write a biography of his grandmother. And so just the intertwining of all these personal dramas is really quite amazing as well.
I think the myth of the West is something very powerful for all Americans and to discover in a book like Stegner's Angle of Repose how people really lived in the settling of the West as opposed to this fairy tale John Wayne version of the West was so profound. It tells such a captivating story through a couple of sturdy complex incredible individuals.