Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Bad Day For Book Nerds


To say that my novel, Domestic Violets, which came out last August, was eligible to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is a true statement.  Technically. Right? I mean it’s true in the same way that I was eligible to be named People’s Sexiest Man Alive.  After all, I am a man, and I am alive. Regardless, I think we can all agree that I can speak about this year’s lack of a winner with a healthy bit of objectivity. 

In failing to name a winner for fiction, the folks in charge of handing out Pulitzers did all of us a disservice.  And by “all of us,” I mean the rapidly shrinking number of people out there who still care.

Let’s face it—it’s getting harder and harder to be a true Book Nerd.  While certain aspects of TV have never been worse, much of it has never been better. Thanks a lot, HBO and AMC. Movies are delivered right to our homes now—either by mail or modem. And our actual televisions are so enormous and ridiculously advanced that even the shittiest movies you can imagine are marginally impressive, at least visually.  Even the weather is against us.  Thanks to Climate Change, I can’t remember the last time it was actually cold enough outside to not feel guilty about laying around and reading all day. 

But, as depressing as all of that sounds, we could always look forward to the Pulitzer.  The National Book Award is fun to follow—and so is the PEN/Faulkner.  But there’s something different about the Pulitzer.  Each year, when the winner is announced, I email my Book Nerd friends and we discuss it.  If we’ve read the book, we either complain about it winning or celebrate it.  If we haven’t read the book, we’re embarrassed, and so we go out and buy it right away.  And for a few days, we aren’t talking about Don Draper.  We aren’t talking about politics or sports or movies or whether or not 30 Rock is a repeat.  We’re talking about books. 

I’m not saying that choosing the best novel of the year out of thousands is an easy job. In fact, it sounds pretty overwhelming.  Next year, though, for the sake of everyone in the country who is still struggling to cling to Book Nerdom…come on, seriously…just suck it up and pick one. 

thenormannation@gmail.com

11 comments:

  1. Agree. Like. Whatever. Read a column by one of the fiction jurors who made it sound like the jury committee was none too pleased that the Pulitzer Board didn't name a winner, esp after all the work the committee did and all the great work that was out there.

    So the real question to me is... how do you get on that jury committee? Best job ever. (Other than say... winning the Pulitzer)

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  2. Ha love this. It's so true. So many of us were book nerds before book nerds were cool. Wait?! They are cool now right? :) Maybe someone will create an entirely new book nerd award to give out and a plethora of traditions will begin.

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  3. I've got to tell you... I've just started reading your book and you are killing me! It's Saturday, the whole family is home, and I'm hanging around the house laughing hysterically. I'm talking real tears running down my face.
    I'm even reading parts out loud, and my family thinks I've gone mad. They stare at me and don't understand what is so funny. I read, "...sipping from a soda the size of buckets that pioneer women used to bathe their children" and fall on the floor in uncontrolable heaves and they don't get it! Anyway, I think its hilarious.
    That's it. Just wanted to let you know.
    Renee Halevy
    Jerusalem, Israel
    halevyrenee@yahoo.com

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  4. I've got to tell you... I've just started reading your book and you are killing me! It's Saturday, the whole family is home, and I'm hanging around the house laughing hysterically. I'm talking real tears running down my face.
    I'm even reading parts out loud, and my family thinks I've gone mad. They stare at me and don't understand what is so funny. I read, "...sipping from a soda the size of buckets that pioneer women used to bathe their children" and fall on the floor in uncontrolable heaves and they don't get it! Anyway, I think its hilarious.
    That's it. Just wanted to let you know.
    Renee Halevy
    Jerusalem, Israel
    halevyrenee@yahoo.com

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  5. Hi there, halevyrenee. I'm glad you're liking it. That line you quoted is one of the very few that survived from the first draft to the finished product. I like it, too. Hope all is well in Jerusalem. It's cool to see that my book is making it to places I haven't yet.

    Best,
    MN

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  6. Not awarding a fiction prize makes perfect sense; the slot was already taken by Curtis Violet. :)

    I just finished reading Domestic Violets and loved it. Can't wait for your next novel!

    Thanks for a very funny read!

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  7. Yeah...good point, Madeleine. I don't know why that wasn't reported nationally.

    Thanks for the note.

    MN

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  8. Have just finished reading Domestic Violets. It's a fantastic first novel with the pages just asking to be turned, and turned. The neurotic mutt is a nice touch and at the end I enjoyed the bit about Author Readings as I have a bit of experience in this field and they can be pretty constricted and embarassing affairs for both author and the, quite often, too reverential questioners. John Irving is a case in point. Went along to see him do his thing at a well packed theatre here in Haarlem and adulation from the audience buggered up any chance of any decent questions; except for one from me as I was getting up to leave.

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  9. The Dutch are a very polite people and I was geting pretty bored with the whole thing. Coming from Ireland and having had a few drinks before I came in I was in a bit of a Brendan Behan mood. Irving had pleased them by setting his novel A Widow For a Year in Amsterdam so there was little chance of controversy from the Haarlemers in the hall. I got up to leave and head for the pub when Irving, who was sitting on a chair on the stage said, "Yes sir, a question?" I looked around and saw that I was the only one standing. Totally unprepared, I said, "How can you stomach it to sit up there and answer these totally innane and reverential questions?" To his credit he simply answered, "It's not easy," and I went out to a murmur of disapproval from the good folk of Haarlem.

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  10. Nice, Tom. I love author encounter stories. I saw Irving in Washington DC a few years back and really enjoyed it. I love that sort of thing. Best. MN

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  11. Just realized the domestic violence/domestic violets thing pretty funny!

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