Thursday, November 15, 2007

Prizes

Though I was quietly rooting for Lydia Davis, one can hardly complain about Denis Johnson scoring this time. I still haven't read Tree of Smoke, but I'm a big fan of his other stuff. The National Book Foundation website has a not-terribly-informative interview with him. Most of the questions are longer than Johnson's answers. I like this; writers ought to let the work speak for itself.

And I'll confess to being slightly irritated about this one of Davis's books being nominated. Her first couple of collections were almost totally ignored, by everyone, though they were every bit as good as the newest one. It seems like once she was "discovered" by McSweeney's, then published in the NYer, suddenly she's the It Woman. Oh, well, better late than never, of course. I guess I feel a bit like a teenager whose favorite obscure band is suddenly a hit. Hey, man, I liked her before she was cool!!!

JRL wouldn't tell you, but he has a new thing in the latest Paris Review. That's a pretty fine website, actually.

9 comments:

Mr. Saflo said...

Re: Tree of Smoke: This probably won't go over well, but I stumbled upon B.R. Myers' review/assassination job in The Atlantic and now I have reservations.

This link may or may not work:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/vietnam?ca=J1WlI%2FCUjjrP6dTQ5Mfplgg3nM3X%2FXioB2yg54JWPQ0%3D

Mr. Saflo said...

Reservations for five at Spago, that is.

rmellis said...

Consider the source, though! Myers wrote that dyspeptic rant a few years ago in which he hated on everyone even marginally interesting or inventive.

I'll take the word of my pal Ed over Myers any day.

moonlight ambulette said...

Wow! I like the Paris Review thingy! I think I had that panda-lady as a Hebrew school teacher.

Mr. Saflo said...

I don't think he was entirely off-base in that dyspeptic rant. I'm guilty of reading(!) and occasionally writing(!!) the type of fiction over which he has daggers in his eyes, but it is nice to see such a loud call for sobriety in criticism.

Mr. Saflo said...

Also, he does lay out many quotes for the reader to judge herself.

ed said...

Tree of Smoke is a foine, foine book. It doesn't make any great claims about itself. No deep breath before starting, no ta-dum when it's done. It begins, and remains, a quiet madness.

The Savage Detectives is also foine and shimmering.

rmellis said...

What I loathe about Myers is that he can't just criticize a book; he has to imply that the book's writer is a fraud and that its fans are fools or pretentious bastards. His is a limited, insecure, and not very smart perspective.

The Atlantic has become a terrible magazine and I won't pay for it, so I could only read the beginning of that review.

jrlennon said...

But honey, what about all the fabulous fiction in the Atlantic--you know, those wonderful stories about priests, Ireland, and people owning boats? Nothing could be more culturally relevant at this delicate moment in our literary history.

Hey pandas, thanks--if you dug that, there's more where it came from...Lou and I are working on a book. I think we have like 13 photos/stories so far...