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Posts Tagged ‘National Book Award’

Remembering Mike Nichols, and Other News

November 20, 2014 | by

Still_portrait_Mike_Nichols

A publicity shot of a young Mike Nichols, ca. 1970.

  • Last night there was a modest ceremony for a little-known prize called the National Book Award. Congratulations to its winners this year: Evan Osnos in nonfiction, for The Age of Ambition; Phil Klay in fiction, for his collection Redeployment; Louise Glück in poetry, for Faithful and Virtuous Night; and Jacqueline Woodson in young people’s literature, for Brown Girl Dreaming. The Daily interviewed Klay earlier this year, and The Paris Review published five of Glück’s poems in our Winter 2007 issue—read one here.
  • While we’re at it, why won’t the National Book Foundation bring back its award for translation, which was eliminated in the eighties? “The prize was a model of award-as-activism … Its administrators leveraged the National Book Awards’s clout in service of a category of literature that desperately needed popular attention and validation.”
  • Mike Nichols has died at eighty-three. (Not to diminish his incredible accomplishments as a director, but NB: his “Mother and Son” skit with Elaine May is still funny more than half a century later.)
  • A new game, Ether One, brings us closer to the experience of dementia: “Your job is to dive into the mind of Jean Thompson, a sixty-nine-year-old woman diagnosed with dementia, and retrieve a series of lost memories … The collection gradually overwhelms the player’s ability to remember just where all of these things came from and why they seemed important enough to retrieve. Why did I bring this plate all the way back here? Whose hat is this supposed to be again? It’s a tidy simulation of the cognitive degradation of dementia.”
  • How does one write a mouse-washing scene? There aren’t a lot of examples in literature, and in any event I didn’t want my mouse-washing scene to be contaminated by the work of other fiction writers.”

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An Alphabet of Things, and Other News

October 16, 2014 | by

alphaber

Detail from Giambattista Moretti’s Alphabeta, 1737.

  • Should the National Book Award rethink its longlist? “It’s hard to stir interest in the same subject twice, which is what the National Book Award is trying to do.”
  • Down with adverbs! “Only two classes of people, it seems, stick up for the adverb: young adults and members of the bar.”
  • At auction next month: Giambattista Morandi’s 1737 Alphabeta. (A bargain at two- to three-thousand euros.)
  • In the forties, America believed it had at last conquered all airborne illnesses. The secret: germicidal lamps, which at the time were a source of extraordinary optimism. “We can look forward confidently to the fact that within another few years at most, control of airborne infection will be on its way to join control of infections through water, milk and solid foods. Another great frontier will have surrendered to man’s onward march.”
  • The Italian novelist Domenico Starnone is fed up with people who think he’s the elusive Elena Ferrante: “Ferrante is not the only one to have written about abandoned women, you know … Let’s say I am Ferrante, or that my wife is. Explain to me one thing: given that it is so rare, in this mud puddle that is Italy, to have international reach, why would we not make the most of it? What would induce us to remain in the shadow?”
  • Beethoven gets real: “Everything I do apart from music is badly done and stupid,” he once wrote.

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Louise Erdrich Wins NBA for Fiction

November 15, 2012 | by

We’d like to congratulate Louise Erdrich on her National Book Award for The Round House. The following quote, from her Art of Fiction interview, explores the author’s approach to writing:

I take great pleasure in writing when I get a real voice going and I’m able to follow the voice and the character. It’s like being in a trance state. Once that had happened a few times, I knew I needed to write for the rest of my life. I began to crave the trance state. I would be able to return to the story anytime, and it would play out in front of me, almost effortlessly. Not many of my stories work out that way. Most of my work is simple persistence … But if the trance happens, even though it’s been wonderful, I’m suspicious. It’s like an ecstatic love affair or fling that makes you think, It can’t be this good, it can’t be! And it never is. I always need to go back and ­reconfigure parts of the voice. So the control is working with the piece after it’s written, finding the end. The title’s always there, the beginning’s always there, sometimes I have to wait for the middle, and then I always write way past the end and wind up cutting off two pages.

 

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Did The Moviegoer Fix the NBAs? And Other News

November 5, 2012 | by

  • It was considered a huge upset when The Moviegoer beat out Catch-22, Revolutionary Road, and Franny and Zooey for the 1962 National Book Award. Slate asks: Was the fix in? And why?
  • Speaking of snubbing Richard Yates: “Each time Yates shuffled into Roads that summer, I avoided making eye contact. Why didn’t he get help, join AA?” Leslie Absher recounts her interactions with the author.
  • Books written from beyond the grave. Dead Mark Twain was especially prolific.
  • You may be dead before you finish these: a slideshow of those books most difficult to finish.
  • He apparently hated beards, and other trivia about Roald Dahl.
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    On the Shelf

    October 19, 2011 | by

      A page from Spalding Gray's journal. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

    A cultural news roundup.

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