By Rigoberto González
From: Los Angeles Times
On Sept. 20, I had the pleasure of interviewing Native American writer Tommy Orange on the stage for ALOUD, a lecture series at the Los Angeles Public Library, and I hope that the audience in attendance benefited from our exchange. Our banter was friendly, and there were a few chuckles during the evening so I know that we were, at the very least, entertaining. The book-signing line was lengthy and the brief interactions we had with the book buyers were generous and appreciative. After the last book was signed, Tommy and I embraced and said our goodbyes, promising to remain in touch. But despite how smoothly the entire evening went, something was not quite right. Perhaps it was the guns.
I felt an odd sensation as soon as Tommy and I met up with representatives from the library for a meal at Café Pinot. Since the restaurant is adjacent to the site, the staff was familiar with our hosts and asked us, the special guests, about our books. Library Foundation President Ken Brecher was particularly charming, but he spoke incessantly about the library’s programming and its important components, a kind of sales pitch that came across as an anxious tic rather than pre-event small talk.
When Mr. Brecher asked if we had any questions, Tommy seized on the opportunity to address “the elephant in the room.” He asked about Louise Steinman and Maureen Moore, the curators of ALOUD. What was all this about?
“This” was the unexpected departure of Steinman and Moore, whose positions had been recently eliminated. The ALOUD series, which had been a mainstay of L.A.’s literary life, has been running for 25 years. Without Steinman, its founder, does that mean it now faces an uncertain future? I first met Steinman and Moore during an event at the Broad this spring. I was ecstatic to be part of a stellar lineup of authors in conversation with the paintings of Jasper Johns. So when they invited me back, I accepted without hesitation. I was particularly looking forward to visiting the “Visualizing Language” exhibit at the library because the muralists were from Oaxaca, a Mexican state I visit twice a year.
I first heard about the departures over social media, but everything I read offered no acceptable explanation. On Sept. 9, I received word of a petition, which eventually surpassed 800 signatures, mine included. On Sept. 13, I was told via email that the petition had been delivered “to the Chair of the Board of the Library Foundation, to the Mayor and his staff.” There was no talk of a boycott or any other action by those of us who were already scheduled to appear in the series. I had asked Steinman directly if the event was going to be affected by this and she referred me to the current directors who assured me everything was going to proceed as planned. Read Rest of Article Here