THE MONUMENT by Gary Paulsen

THE MONUMENT

Age Range: 12 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Paulsen quotes Katherine Anne Porter: "Art is what we find when the ruins are cleared away." In exploring this provocative remark, he reveals much about his own art. Seedy, independent Mick arrives in Bolton, Kansas, to design its Vietnam Memorial. For days, he observes and draws--animals, people, the graveyard--followed by narrator Rocky, a "caramel-colored" lame teenager adopted, at nine, by good-hearted Emma and Fred. Enthralled by Mick's art, Rocky realizes that she, too, is an artist; Mick agrees, offering pointers and the respect due a fellow professional. But the town is appalled by Mick's drawings: his telling chalk reveals too much--including Tru (who hired him) in the nude. As Mick anticipated, people react most negatively to what he considers his strongest work. Then, skillfully, he leads them to accept a monument to please everyone: 18 trees, one for each of Bolton's military dead, going back to the Civil War. Rocky calls BoRon "a microcosm of the world." Of course--but only as seen in the idiosyncratic if wise vision of Mick, who wryly succeeds in giving the town a dignified monument despite itself. He also transforms two lives: Rocky finds a calling; Tru, awakened to her own humanity, joins Mick when he goes. Meanwhile, several "ruins" are suggested--wars and bar fights; the lives of Mick, Emma, and Fred (who drink a lot but function well); orphaned Rocky;, Mick's rejected drawings. Each gives rise to some sort of art or to a creative relationship; the macho view of the artist lurks, but not offensively. An intriguing, ironic tale, written vividly and with memorable humor. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-385-30518-4
Page count: 151pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991




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