Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Pulitzer for Fiction Reminds Me That It's Only 3 Weeks Until Pynchon in Public Day

In 1974 the three members of the Pulitzer Prize's fiction jury (Elizabeth Hardwick, Alfred Kazin, and Benjamin DeMott) unanimously recommended Gravity's Rainbow only to be overruled by the full 14-member board, which couldn't make it through the book (except for the pages they had dogeared and re-read to make sure they were "obscene").  The result was that no 1974 Pulitzer Prize for fiction was awarded even though they had one of the greatest novels of the century in their hands.

It will be interesting to hear why the Pulitzers couldn't agree on a fiction prize this year between David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, Karen Russell's Swamplandia, and Denis Johnson's Train Dreams, but mostly the news of the unawarded 2012 award makes me want to finish what I'm reading now so that I can start on Gravity's Rainbow again as soon as possible.  If I procrastinate enough, I might be caught reading it on Pynchon in Public day, May 8.  (Not only is May 8, 1937 Thomas Pynchon's birthday, but May 8, 1974 is the date of the New York Times article, "Pulitzer Jurors Dismayed on Pynchon".)  What will you be reading in public on that Tuesday?

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