Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Magnificent Ambersons...Tarkington's first amazing prize-winner

Well folks, it's been a while since I've posted anything of substance on here.

The truth is, I haven't had much to say. I've had a hell of a time trying to locate the first book on the list. The thought didn't occur to me that I wouldn't be able to find any of the books...they ARE Pulitzer Prize winners, right?

So since March I've been treading my way through the second book on the list, Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons. And when I say "treading", I mean it. It's May and I'm still only halfway through. Everything that I've read about Tarkington raves about him (or her...I'm not sure, is Booth a male or female name?) and I haven't been able to figure that out yet.

The language that Tarkington uses is beautiful. It's not one of those oh-my-gosh-i-cant-wait-to-get-through-this-paragraph description. He's good. Just not as amazing as I expected. I keep waiting for that moment in the book where somebody thought, "Wow, this thing deserves some type of award! Pulitzer it is!," but so far, I'm confused.

I guess I'll just have to get to the end to figure it out. If the library will even let me renew more times than I have already...that reminds me. When is it due back?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"I Need to Read"

It is long. Here is the abridged version:

I love to read. I have loved to read since I was a kid. When I was in elementary school, I used to get in trouble for reading chapter books during class.

I love to spend the first 30 minutes after buying a small electronic device reading its manual.

I read a particularly fascinating article in Highlights magazine not too long ago. And the magazine that AARP puts out once had a very insightful article on how to save money while traveling.

Sometimes, I like to pretend I'm the main character in a novel I'm reading and that I have their special powers, or their cool clothes or I live in their city or their time period. I love any kind of quick-read book by Meg Cabot or Helen Fielding but I also love the kind of resounding literature that Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger wrote. William Shakespears and Tennessee Williams' plays also top my list of favorite reads.

If you go to a movie with me and I see that the movie was based on a book, you better believe I'm going to the library after that movie and checking out the book.

I am usually the first person my friends will ask about current events because they think I probably read an article about something somewhere. They're usually right.

I recently checked out four books from the library without considering when I would have time to read them. In order to finish them all and turn them back in on time, I've left one at home, one in my book bag, one at work and I keep one in my car for lengthy stoplights. That way, I'll always have something to read. And that's how I like it.


That part about reading the book in the car? I really do that. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Reading podcast

I just remembered that I wrote and recorded a podcast for my feature writing class about how much I love to read. I got an "A" on it and my professor said she liked it.

I shall post it when I am not feeling lazy and actually am within arm's length of my jump drive.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I just checked out The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington from the library and am awaiting His Family by Ernest Poole. I want to read them all in chronological order to get the full effect.

Prize-winning list

From pulitzer.org. I have only read two of them:

2009 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead Books)

2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf)

2006 March by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)

2005
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar)

2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Amistad/ HarperCollins)

2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar)

2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Alfred A. Knopf)

2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (Random House)

2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin)

1999 The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

1998 American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin)

1997 Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser (Crown)

1996 Independence Day by Richard Ford (Alfred A. Knopf)

1995 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Viking)

1994 The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Charles Scribner's Sons)

1993
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler (Henry Holt)

1992
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (Alfred A. Knopf)

1991
Rabbit At Rest by John Updike (Alfred A. Knopf)

1990
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos (Farrar)

1989
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (Alfred A. Knopf)

1988
Beloved by Toni Morrison (Alfred A. Knopf)

1987
A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (Alfred A. Knopf)

1986
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster)

1985
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie (Random House)

1984
Ironweed by William Kennedy (Viking)

1983
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Harcourt Brace)

1982
Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike (Knopf)

1981
A Confederacy of Dunces by the late John Kennedy Toole (a posthumous publication)
(Louisiana State U. Press)

1980
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (Little)

1979
The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (Knopf)

1978
Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson (Atlantic Monthly Press)

1977
(No Award)

1976
Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow (Viking)

1975
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (McKay)

1974
(No Award)

1973
The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (Random)

1972
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (Doubleday)

1971
(No Award)

1970
Collected Stories by Jean Stafford (Farrar)

1969
House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (Harper)

1968
The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (Random)

1967
The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (Farrar)

1966
Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter (Harcourt)

1965
The Keepers Of The House by Shirley Ann Grau (Random)

1964
(No Award)

1963
The Reivers by William Faulkner (Random)

1962
The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor (Little)

1961
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Lippincott)

1960
Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (Doubleday)

1959
The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor (Doubleday)

1958
A Death In The Family by the late James Agee (a posthumous publication) (McDowell, Obolensky)

1957
(No Award)

1956
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor (World)

1955
A Fable by William Faulkner (Random)

1954
(No Award)

1953
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Scribner)

1952
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (Doubleday)

1951
The Town by Conrad Richter (Knopf)

1950
The Way West by A. B. Guthrie (Sloane)

1949
Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens (Harcourt)

1948
Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener (Macmillan)

1947 All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (Harcourt)

1946 (No Award)

1945
A Bell for Adano by John Hersey (Knopf)

1944
Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin (Harper)

1943
Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair (Viking)

1942
In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow (Harcourt)

1941
(No Award)

1940
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Viking)

1939
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Scribner)

1938
The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand (Little)

1937
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Macmillan)

1936
Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis (Harper)

1935
Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson (Simon & Schuster)

1934
Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller (Harper)

1933
The Store by T. S. Stribling (Doubleday)

1932
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (John Day)

1931
Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes (Houghton)

1930
Laughing Boy by Oliver Lafarge (Houghton)

1929
Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin (Bobbs)

1928
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (Boni)

1927
Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield (Stokes)

1926
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (Harcourt)

1925
So Big by Edna Ferber (Doubleday)

1924
The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson (Harper)

1923
One of Ours by Willa Cather (Knopf)

1922
Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington (Doubleday)

1921
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Appleton)

1920
(No Award)

1919
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (Doubleday)

1918
His Family by Ernest Poole (Macmillan)

1917
(No Award)

A history of the Pulitzer Prize

From pulitzer.org:

In writing his 1904 will, which made provision for the establishment of the Pulitzer Prizes as an incentive to excellence, [Joseph] Pulitzer specified solely four awards in journalism, four in letters and drama, one for education, and four traveling scholarships. In letters, prizes were to go to an American novel, an original American play performed in New York, a book on the history of the United States, an American biography, and a history of public service by the press.

But, sensitive to the dynamic progression of his society, Pulitzer made provision for broad changes in the system of awards. He established an overseer advisory board and willed it "power in its discretion to suspend or to change any subject or subjects, substituting, however, others in their places, if in the judgment of the board such suspension, changes, or substitutions shall be conducive to the public good or rendered advisable by public necessities, or by reason of change of time." He also empowered the board to withhold any award where entries fell below its standards of excellence. The assignment of power to the board was such that it could also overrule the recommendations for awards made by the juries subsequently set up in each of the categories.

Since the inception of the prizes in 1917, the board, later renamed the Pulitzer Prize Board, has increased the number of awards to 21 and introduced poetry, music, and photography as subjects, while adhering to the spirit of the founder's will and its intent.

Nervous beginnings

Hello, all.

You may be wondering why I decided to take on the daunting task of reading all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels.

It first started fall semester of '09. I took a feature writing class in which my teacher had us reading a lot of the prize-winning articles so I was spending a lot of time at pulitzer.org. While I love to read, it was kind of hard to find a lot of the articles past 2002 and I'm not incredibly interested in reading them anyways.

That's when I started getting curious about the prize-winning novels. I checked them out. They date back to 1917! I think I counted somewhere around 90 novels.

The thought to challenge myself and read them all didn't creep into my mind until later. Even then, I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I finally decided to do it!

I'm so nervous about this journey, and I think it might be a long one. But here goes! I think by the end of this, the winners for 2010 and 2011 might already be announced...