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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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No Time For Losers

It’s true: fiction got fucked in the face by the Pulitzers.  The reason I’m bummed is because it’s one of the few opportunities to do something exciting for a writer and the literary community, especially the booksellers. We need these prizes to celebrate our collective industry no matter how political and corrupt it often seems. It sounds like the process must have been grueling.  WHat’s worse than coming up empty handed? Having your dick cut off? Okay, here at betsy.com let’s have our own vote. The three finalists are Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, and  Karen Russel’s Swamplandia.

So cast your vote for one of these three writers OR nominate someone else. The winner of the BetsyPulitzerPrize will be invited to have a q&a  here, I will make love with the winner, and he or she will get a free copy of  THe Forest for the Trees and a free lifetime subscription to the blog.

45 Responses

  1. I’m picking DWF, and I want you to install the Betsy cam before you fuck him.

  2. This is so ridiculous because it LOOKS to an outsider who can’t be bothered to read the article you linked, like the Pulitzer judges couldn’t find any books that were good enough to win. But actually it means that ALL THREE books were so effing good that they couldn’t decide. SO? Make it a tie. Or put it to a larger vote. Don’t those Pulitzer fuckers realize we only care what they think about books for marketing purposes? Do they really think we care that they couldn’t agree? What a bunch of wankers.

    Imagine if the Oscars did this “Sorry, we couldn’t decide so nobody wins”. The producers would go medieval on them. I hope the big publishers (not just the publishers of the nominated books) go to town on the Pulitzer Board.

    One year, when I had a film in contention, the Australian Writer’s Guild Awgie Awards decided that they could only find one screenplay in each category (original and adapted) that was worthy of them so there were no nominees. I didn’t expect to win, but I would have liked a nod. But my film, a kids film, was pretty silly, so I wasn’t all that hurt. HOWEVER, the writer of the superb and successful film RABBIT PROOF FENCE was sitting at my table. We all thought she was going to win. Nope. Not even nominated.

    Let me tell you, my producer, her producer and the director of the Australian Film Commission were on the phone with the Guild the next day. Jerks.

    These awards people need to get some perspective.

  3. I haven’t read any of them yet but I always read the winner. In a blind test, I’d award anything to DFW : gold stars, presidency, the Pulitzer, the Nobel. He was the closest we got to Tolstoy since the man himself.

    As for the Board, they should have been locked in the room without cigarettes, alcohol or their phones till they made a decision.

  4. Train Dreams. Denis goes on and off the rails for me with each book, but this one’s got America written all over it. Of course it doesn’t take place in or near NYC — I figure that killed it.

    The first 2 and 1/2 pages of Tree of Smoke might be the most memorable opening pages I’ve ever read. I’ll never forget that 18 yr old private and the baby monkey.

  5. Okay, I’ll read Tree of Smoke, but “18 yr. old private” is strike one.

  6. So…okay…I’m really naïve about these things. I sort of leave destiny to the people hired or appointed to do…whatever. This all sounds so familiar considering that today’s leaders in…whatever… just can’t seem to decide or do anything. Oh, sorry I was talking about politics you were talking about books.

  7. I can’t vote because I haven’t read them all! But the Poohlitzer judges do not have that excuse. Jeeze, make a decision, dammit.

  8. the fiction category judges were NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan, author Michael Cunningham, and former Times-Picayune book editor Susan Larson.

    Traditionally the judging committee picks the finalists and the board reads those books and decides the winner. Prize administrator Sig Gissler confirmed to us that is the case, adding the board “failed to reach a majority” and thus did not award a fiction prize.

    So. There were three finalists chosen by a judging committee, which hands them off to the board, which has twenty members. How is it that you fail to reach a majority vote out of a field of only three books read by twenty people? I flunked permutations but somebody needs to do some ‘splainin anyway.

    I haven’t read any of them and so have no vote.

  9. There is an excellent ‘splanation by Laura Miller at salon.com titled “Pulitzers Snub Fiction”. I will stand up for Ms. Larson as she is a dear friend – and her NPR interview should also leave no doubt to her thoughts on the matter.

    • Sorry, read the article; I still don’t get it. Twenty judges, three books, no majority. Does that mean most of them abstained from voting? Another thing I don’t get is why Laura Miller, the author of the Salon article, puts the titles of novels in quotation marks.

      • I’m no expert on punctuation – heck, I can’t even figure out how to italized words for these posts – but, what I learned from the article is the capricious focus of these Boards. From being labelled as “hopelessly mainstream” to accusations of not reading more fiction, it seems these Board members may be a bit too removed from the selections they are tasked with reviewing.

        On the other hand, the outrage at this lack-of-a-winner tells me that books do indeed matter to the Common Person and Johnson, Wallace and Russel are now linked with Eudora Welty (and that may be better than a Prize!).

  10. Hell, I don’t know, I can’t decide. Just give me the money, I got bills to pay.

    Or better yet, take the check for the prize money, put it in an envelope, and duct tape it to a sailing stone in the middle of Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa. Take all the nominees (not just the finalists) and lock ’em up in Scotty’s Castle at the beginning of July so they’re all starting from the same place. Turn ’em loose at sunrise on Independence Day to hike in, find the envelope if one of ’em can, and hike back. They can carry as much water as they can carry, and a Bowie knife. All of ’em are to be wired with video and sound, too, for real-time feed streaming live to ESPN and BBC Sport. The winner, if there is one, gets the money and the Pulitzer. All the surviving contestants will be gathered back at Scotty’s Castle for a special screening of von Stroheim’s GREED.

    Do it. Bring some thrills and excitement back to American literature. It’ll be better than bullfighting. Even better than an academic committee spat. No time for losers, fuckin’ A!

    Yeah, I’m a sick motherfucker.

  11. Denis and David, genius writers both, call me a feminist bitch, but I’m putting my vote behind Karen Russel’s Swamplandia. It’s awesomesauce. Yep, awesomesauce. And fuck those Pulitzer sons-of-bitches. They should have been forced to stay in that room until they came to an agreement.

  12. The Johnson wasn’t a new book. The Wallace wasn’t a finished book. This leaves the remaining nominee, Russell’s Swamplandia, as the default winner. But I wish Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder had been on the shortlist, because it would have won, and should have won.

  13. Train Dreams is awesome, but old. Informal survey at the library today was split on Swamplandia, people either loved it or couldn’t finish it. David Foster Wallace… I don’t know. I just don’t like the DFW worship and it’s kept me from reading his stuff. Someday I’ll get over it.

  14. I will go off the list and pick The Marriage Plot by Mr. Eugenides. It wasn’t flashy or tricky, but very skillful, smart, and funny. I know Eugenides is demographically a typical PP winner and that the goodies should be spread around but I still was surprised it came up in none of the big awards. I haven’t read Swamplandia. I have read the others, but The Pale King isn’t a book in full, and Train Dreams was published as a novella years ago, was it not? I seem to have read it years ago. I feel compelled to say that there were many great short story collections published as well. Yes, it shocked me that there wasn’t a winner. I am a bit Marlon Brando about prizes myself, but I do understand their function, and what world we live in, so there should have been a winner.

  15. Confession time: I haven’t read ANY of the finalists, and only heard of two of them, and every time I check out the blurbs for the two I’ve heard of, which their titles sound interesting, I get turned off, but I forget why. So I’m nominating a book that’s been out for a few years.

    Since, in my world, “literature” means books that are outside my comfort zone and stretch my mind in weird, if not literary ways, my vote goes to Shriek: An Afterword, by Jeff VanderMeer, which is creepy and challenging and unputdownable, and besides which the cover was FANTASTIC. (Dead and dying mushrooms melting over an old-timey typewriter.)

  16. The Pulitzer is so far above my pay grade that I shouldn’t comment at all, but I’d say that having your dick cut off is worse than not having a nomination.I admit to gender bias in this case.

    Great prize offers, though.

  17. Couldn’t finish any of the three nominated so completely understand the pass by the committee. The Art of Fielding would’ve been my pick.

  18. The Pull it, Sir prize.

  19. Sorry, I can’t vote today as I haven’t read any of them yet. It’s tough for me to read fiction when I’m writing fiction. Plus, the books I read are often older as I wait for paperback.

    Still, I think it’s a shame that no one won the prize. Of course there were worthy novels out there, but people are so busy fussing over Fifty Shades of Crap that the good stuff is lost in oblivion.

  20. Actually, publishing industry, there are other opportunities to do something exciting for fiction writers—publish more.

  21. When I think of the Pulitzer, I think of a work that wraps itself around my center and doesn’t let go until long after I’ve finished reading, or in the case of Rent, experiencing it. I, respectfully, submit the following blog post to be considered for the prestigious BPP award: http://averildean.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/paper-ghosts/

  22. I would have nominated Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, or Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife. Maybe neither one is “American” enough? Whatevs. Of the three I’d have chosen DFW. Seriously, so many good books — any of them as good as Rabbit is Rich. Argh. I’m still burned they picked it over the best book ever written, ie, Housekeeping.

  23. Any of the three nominated books certainly worthy of the Pulitzer, but I would have chosen Train Dreams for its beauty, edge and visionary prose. I sometimes wonder if Denis Johnson still writes poetry. In the early 1970’s I was an undergraduate at the Univ. of Iowa where he was also a student. At 20, he had already published a poetry chapbook, “A Man Among the Seals.” Once a group of us were in an elevator in the English/Philosophy bldg. Someone pointed him out: the barefoot hippie with tan feet, and said, “See that guy? He’s a genius.”

    “This Is Thursday, Your Exam Was Tuesday.”

    It is a fine, beautiful
    and lovely time of warm dusk,
    having perhaps just a touch
    too much

    enveloping damp;
    but nice, with its idle strollers,
    of whom I am one,
    and it’s true,
    their capacity for good

    is limitless, you can tell.
    And then–ascending
    over the roofs, the budded tips
    of trees, in the twilight, very whole
    and official,
    its black
    markings like a face

    that has loomed in every city
    I have known–it arrives,
    the gigantic yellow warrant
    for my arrest,
    one sixth the size
    of the world. I’m speaking
    of the moon. I would not give
    you a fistful of earth for
    the entire moon, I might as well tell you.

    For across the fuitile and empty
    street, in the excruciating
    gymnasium, they
    are commencing–
    degrees are being bestowed
    on the deserving,
    whereas I’m the incalculable

    dullard in the teeshirt here.
    Gentleman of the moon:
    I don’t even have
    my real shoes on. These are some reformed
    hoodlum’s shoes, from the Goodwill. Let
    me rest, let me rest in the wake
    of others steady progress,
    closing my eyes,
    closing my heart,

    shutting the door
    in face after face
    that has nourished me.

    –Denis Johnson
    “Inner Weather”

    • Behind Our House

      The cedar mapped with water and hung with rain
      has whatever a cedar mighty want,
      a sky higher and a soil
      deeper than a cedar’s reaching,
      but wants nothing.

      My neighbor walks crippled, with half a head left,
      toward the flag and boxes and machines
      of the Post Office, having tried
      once to shoot himself, and, having lived,
      mails a letter.
      Stove

      at my back, warm me.
      Rain on the harbor, tell me.

      Dark on the day, know me.
      Dark on the day, see me.
      Dark on the day, help me.

      -Denis Johnson

  24. Lost Memory of Skin, Russell Banks

  25. Adam Johnson for “The Orphan Master’s Son.”

  26. Anyone else see the NPR News / nixed-Pulitzer bit with Ann Patchett last night?

    Oh, and I’ll always vote early and often for Denis Johnson. That mofo has technical brilliance and SOUL.

  27. I’m not seeking awards. I just want to publish my first book.

    It would be cathartic.

    If you can and/or want to, please help.

    Thank You.

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