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Matthew
Posted on Friday, October 03, 2003 - 01:45 pm:   

Hello, Mr. Shepard

I remembered reading your reveiw of Dreamcatcher and I wanted to know what you thought of King being awarded National Book Award and Harold Bloom's response to it. Personally, I think that there are writers more deserving then him or for that matter the acadamia darlings that Bloom suggested instead (like say you or Gene Wolfe or Carol Emshweller), but hell give him the award it's not worth getting that upset about.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 03, 2003 - 02:15 pm:   

Matthew, it's a bowling trophy. Long may he wave it around. The NBA has given its accolade to a number of relatively undistinguished books over the years (as well as some that were distinguished). I've found that even the most prestigious literary awards were privy to politics. Case in point. Some years ago, a freind of mine, Russ Banks, was nominated for the Pullitzer for his book CONTINENTAL DRIFT. He lost to Larry McMurtry. Afterwards one of the judges contacted him and told him that he, Russ, had won the award by a 3-2 vote, but they had been persuaded by the administrators of the award to give it to a "bigger book" (in other words, a more famous writer), because the award needed the writer's prestige.

My basic attitude toward awards is that they're not a good idea, because they set up competitive feelings among writers. Some will deny that, but it's true. If you hang around awards ceremonies, you can see that some people are twisted all up and fevered about the nominations. One reason I never attend awards banquets is that I don't like to be aound people feeling that way -- the other reason is, they're dead boring. But people get all wrapped up in it and for what? For a freaking statue that wouldn't get you five bucks in a garage sale. They don't mean much. In the genre, the only award that has any cash benefit is the Hugo for novel. I've actually had a couple of editors tell me that Nebula Award Winner actually diminished sales when printed on the cover of a book. I don't know that I believe that, but I don't believe it's a vast boost for sales. If you can find personal satisfaction in winning, cool. It doesn't work for me. It's nice and all, but winning doesn't do anything more than being nominated. And being nominated is just a buzz.

Awards are fun to win, it's heartwarming when your pals offer congrats, and you can put them in your bio, but aside from a momentary rush when your name is announced, you don't really derive a lot of benefit from them. They seem kind of a hedge against the reality of the blank page and the diminished checking account.

So they could give Danielle Steele the Nobel and it wouldn't make me no never mind.
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Matthew
Posted on Friday, October 03, 2003 - 03:13 pm:   

Thanks for replying so fast.
I'll have to read Continental Drift.
Actually, I wouldn't be surprise if Steele got the Nobel.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 03, 2003 - 03:28 pm:   

Hey, Matthew....if you want to read Russ's stuff, I recomment DRIFT and AFFLICTION.
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Alex Irvine
Posted on Saturday, October 04, 2003 - 12:20 pm:   

AFFLICTION is an absolutely harrowing book, but wow is it beautiful. I've been reading his stories lately.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, October 04, 2003 - 05:24 pm:   

Yeah, Affliction's very cool. Kinda wish he hadn't done that John Brown book, though. I think he kinda wishes the same.
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Alex
Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 12:00 pm:   

I read Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter and picked up Cloudsplitter but put it down again. Something about Russell Banks writing about John Brown, I don't know...anyway, I went for the short stories instead and they're excellent.

Anybody read Richard Russo? A movie of his EMPIRE FALLS is in production right now in Waterville, Maine, and he lives in Camden, I think--so in a spirit of Down East solidarity I've been meaning to read it.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 12:10 pm:   

EMPIRE FALLS is pretty good. It didn't knock my socks off.

My problem with CLOUDSPLITTER was that you can't write a book about JB and have so much -- like Harper's Ferry--happen more or less off camera. I think Russ let his father-son obesssion ruin the focus of the book. Try CONTINENTAL DRIFT if you'd care to read more. It's got a talking dog in it -- Russ thinks of it as his genre book.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 02:03 pm:   

Russo's "Nobody's Fool" is one of my favorite books. Also read his first novel "Mohawk," which is OK.

I thought Banks' "Affliction" and "Sweet Hereafter" were outstanding, and I've been meaning to get around to the rest of his stuff. Too many books out there. Y'all need to knock it off and let me catch up.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 03:16 pm:   

Yeah, Jonathan, I preferred NOBODY'S FOOL to FALLS. Not a terrible movie, either.
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JV
Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 05:04 pm:   

I liked Nobody's Fool a lot--didn't know there was a movie. I tried Falls, but found parts of it slow going.

Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 05:20 pm:   

NOBODY"S FOOL, with Paul Newman and Bruce Willis etc.

Not too bad...

Lucius
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Mike
Posted on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 04:16 am:   

I thought CONTINENTAL DRIFT deserved the Pulitzer, if we're going to pass out awards, and apparently we are, but haven't read much else of Banks's, although I have his story collection and keep meaning to get around to it.

No footballs in the air here. Kinda nice.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 05:03 am:   

Football's good, Mike....

You haven't read AFFLICTION, it's worth a go. Also, a book most people don't remember of Banks, The Book of Jamaica....

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paulw
Posted on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 07:22 am:   

What about Rule of the Bone?

That's always been one of my faves!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 07:35 am:   

You know, Paul, I never did like that book. It struck me as false, as something Russ thought was cool and not something he felt. There is, of course, a lot of good writing in it; but I just never bought that Hucklberry Finn act. I felt similarly about the Sweet Hereafter. But that may be because I wasn't pure for that book. I'd talked to Russ while he was writing it and I know he was under pressure to write something with an upbeat ending -- the ending seemed like a cop-out (actually, there's a more subtle way to say that, but I'm rushing). But most of Russ' stuff is more than worth the time.

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