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Posts Tagged ‘Terry Southern Prize’

Hodgman on Daniels

April 15, 2013 | by

THE PARIS REVIEW Spring RevelEvery year, at our Spring Revel, we give three honors: the Hadada Prize, the Plimpton Prize, and the Terry Southern Prize. This year, John Hodgman of the New York Times Magazine, the Daily Show, and those Mac ads presented the Southern Prize to J. D. Daniels.

Like the other two honors, the Southern Prize is chosen by our board. Unlike those, it recognizes writing in both The Paris Review and The Paris Review Daily. Click here to see Daniels’s latest piece from the magazine and here for his Web archive.

Good evening.

My name is John Hodgman. It’s my pleasure tonight to hand over this B-52 model airplane, which represents the Terry Southern Prize, awarded each year along with $5,000 to honor work from The Paris Review that embodies the qualities of humor, wit, and sprezzatura, which sounds like a word Lorin Stein made up and put into the Wikipedia to describe himself—an artful nonchalant, carrying himself with a a cared-for carelessness.

I’ve read J. D. Daniels’s letters from Majorca and Kentucky and I agree that they also seem effortless, which makes me furious, as they are often achingly well written.

They’re dispatches, and they feel that way, dashed off travelogues from corners of globe and memory, full of crafty rambling and quick jumps from his current home in the fancy eastern edge of Massachusetts to his first home in Kentucky, where J. D. counts out the strip malls and storefront churches and ghosts of bars lovingly like animals climbing aboard a blighted ark, to the vomit-slicked deck of an actual boat at sea, a pilgrimage he takes to leave both homes behind to fight it out while he watches Ibiza burn up in a wildfire.

And it may seem that in all this sprezzatura that his work is a little nonchalant; you don’t know what all these little flash narratives add up to, but then you’ll get one moment: a memory, say, of Daniels being strangled by his own father, whom he still loves, and the running from and returning to that moment, which he’s done ever since; you see a narrative flash like lightning, spreading quick blue light for a moment over the whole shadowy, tortured territory.

It doesn’t sound very funny, and it’s not very funny. Unless you count the part where J. D. Daniels gets strangled by his own father, which is hilarious; we know this from The Simpsons. And if you’re wondering why he’s getting the Terry Southern Prize for Humor it is because, like Southern, his work is sly, and wicked, and playful, and, most of all, it’s true.

People ask me why is the Daily Show funny and I usually say it’s because of the jokes. Because explaining humor is neither funny, fun, nor possible. But some jokes always work because they break taboos. That’s why dirty jokes work, as Albert Brooks discovered opening for Richie Havens; there’s one word you can say into a microphone that will always win over one thousand drunk Texan Richie Havens fans who hate you, and that word is a miracle word, and that word is shit. But when it comes to the Daily Show, and J. D. Daniels too, the greatest taboo-breaking is simply to say what is true, plainly, and without apology. That joke always works, even when it’s no joke. J. D. Daniels’s letters know intimately that space between the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves when we’re sitting on a bar, and the queasy, daylit truth that awaits us once we are kicked outside into the afternoon sun.

In a recent posting to The Paris Review Daily he wrote, “We know what comedy is: life is increased. Think of Rodney Dangerfield addressing the crowd at the end of Caddyshack: ‘Hey, everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!’” [Dirty joke.] And we know what tragedy is: isolation increases. I used to think that life was about winning everything, Mike Tyson once said, but now I know that life is about losing everything.”

So J. D. Daniels is a plain good writer, but not like every good writer, he is clear, he is also a very funny guy. And when he doesn’t make you laugh, it’s on purpose, and when he does, that’s on purpose, too. What better definition of humor is there?

So it’s my pleasure to offer the Terry Southern Prize to J. D. Daniels of Kentucky, Massachusetts, and the world. Congratulations, to him and to us all.

We’re all going to get laid.

 

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Amie Barrodale Wins Plimpton Prize; Adam Wilson Wins Terry Southern Prize for Humor

March 13, 2012 | by

Amie Barrodale.

On Tuesday, April 3, The Paris Review will honor two of our favorite young writers.

Amie Barrodale will receive the Review’s Plimpton Prize for “Wiliam Wei,” which appeared in our Summer issue.

Adam Wilson will receive the second Terry Southern Prize for Humor for his story “What’s Important Is Feeling” and his contributions to The Paris Review Daily.

The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 award given to a new voice published in The Paris Review. The prize is named for the Review’s longtime editor George Plimpton and reflects his commitment to discovering new writers of exceptional merit. The winner is chosen by the Board of the Review. This year’s prize will be presented by Mona Simpson.

Adam Wilson.

The Terry Southern Prize for Humor is a $5,000 award recognizing wit, panache, and sprezzatura in work published by The Paris Review or online by the Daily. Perhaps best known as the screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider—and the subject of an interview in issue 200!—Terry Southern was also a satirical novelist, a pioneering New Journalist, and a driving force behind the early Paris Review. Comedian David Cross will present this year’s award.

The honoree of this year’s Revel is Robert Silvers. Zadie Smith will present Silvers with the 2012 Hadada, the Review’s lifetime achievement award recognizing a “strong and unique contribution to literature.” Previous recipients of the Hadada include James Salter, John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton (posthumously), Barney Rosset, Philip Roth, and William Styron.

Come help us celebrate our honorees and our two hundredth issue—and support the Review. Buy your Revel tickets now!

 

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Join Us for Our 2012 Spring Revel

March 6, 2012 | by

Our annual gala, the Spring Revel, brings together writers and friends of the magazine to share in an evening of cocktails, dinner, music, talk, and, all-around revelry. Just last year Women’s Wear Daily called this venerable tradition “the best party in town”—and who are we to argue with WWD?

This year’s going to be especially ... revelrous, because we’re celebrating the two hundredth issue of The Paris Review. Comedian David Cross (Arrested Development, etc.) will give the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. Mona Simpson will give the Plimpton Prize for Fiction. Zadie Smith will present Robert Silvers, cofounder and editor of  The New York Review of Books (and our sometime Paris editor), with the Hadada Prize for a “unique contribution to literature.” Our Benefit Chairs are Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook, and his fiancée Sean Eldridge, President of Hudson River Ventures and Senior Adviser at Freedom to Marry.

We’d love to see you there! Tickets and tables are available in The Paris Review’s store.

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