Alison Lurie, the First of my Pulitzer Prize Discovered Project (or just PPDP in brief).
28 January, 2010 § 1 Comment
So I recently decided it would be a rather enjoyable undertaking to read (in chronological order, of course) the past 40+ odd years’ worth of Pulitzer Prize winners for full-length novels that I’ve never encountered before. Part of this desire is birthed from a desire to understand why these books were deemed worthy of the prize – – part of my interest lies in tracing the evolution of narrative voice in American fiction – – and part of the plan simply rests in the fact that I had finished all of my other “must reads” by the time I concocted this idea.
According to the ever-illustrious Wiki gods, “the Pulitzer Prize (pronounced /ˈpʊlɨtsər/) is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by Hungarian-American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. According to the administrators of the Pulitzer Prize, the correct pronunciation of the name should sound like the the verb pull, as in “Pull it, sir”. Pulitzer is believed to come from the Latin root, “poulit,” meaning great and all worthy… Famous recipients of the Pulitzer Prize include President John F. Kennedy for Biography; Margaret Mitchell, Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison for Fiction; Robert Frost for Poetry; Roger Ebert for Criticism; and Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim for Drama. Upton Sinclair also won the Pulitizer Prize for his novel Dragon’s Teeth.”
For what it’s worth, David McCullough has won the Pulitzer twice for his biographies; Robert Frost was awarded the prize four times for his poetic canon; Eugene O’Neill has been awarded four awards underneath the category of drama; John Updike and William Faulkner were both dual winners in the fiction category; and last but not least, Thornton Wilder is apparently remarkable for having won the Pulitzer Prize in more than one category – – once for the novel category and twice in that of drama.
… As of last evening, I’m actually going to contradict my own plans and jump out of chronological order; instead of tackling a substantial piece called The Edge of Sadness, winner of the 1962 Pulitzer Prize award, I’ve already started reading the book that received the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and carries the somewhat uninspiring title of Foreign Affairs. “On a cold blowy February day a woman is boarding the ten A.M. flight to London, followed by an invisible dog,” reads the opening line. “The woman’s name is Virigina Miner: she is fifty-four years old, small, plain and unmarried – the sort of person that no one ever notices, though she is an Ivy League college professor who has published several books and has a well-established reputation in the expanding field of children’s literature. The dog that is trailing Vinnie,” the page continues in a slight sardonic vein, “visible only to her imagination, is her familiar demon, or demon familiar, known to her privately as Fido and representing self-pity.” Hmm – – I’d say simultaneously clever and heavy-handed. We’ll see how the rest unfolds. If it is a bit of a bomb, well, no worries: there are 19 others waiting to take its place in the limelight of my reading vision!