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Posts Tagged ‘Denis Johnson’

No Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Awarded

There was no Pulitzer Prize for fiction awarded this year. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace were all nominated.

Stephen Greenblatt won the General Nonfiction award for  The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and John Lewis Gaddis took the Biography award for George F. Kennan: An American Life.

Tracy K. Smith won the Poetry award with Life on Mars. The Drama award went to Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable won the History prize.   Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts by Kevin Puts was awarded the Music prize.

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Mediabistro Course

Nonfiction Book Proposal

Nonfiction Book ProposalStarting September 4,work with a literary agent to complete a full proposal that wins an agent and a contract! Ryan Harbage from The Fischer-Harbage Agency, Inc. will teach you how to convey your idea in a winning book proposal format, write your proposal letter, understand the nuts and bolts of the nonfiction book industry, and more. Register now! 

Margaret Atwood Advises the 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award Recipients

whitingawards.jpg“Congratulations to all ten of you. I’ll put you all in my blog.” author Margaret Atwood told the 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award recipients last night. She delivered some droll advice for the winners: “Write a cookbook or a book about vampires. Or troll through the classics, adding monsters…Or, better yet, write a vampire cookbook.”

Last night, ten authors received a $50,000 check from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, part of the 25th annual Whiting Writers’ Awards. Since 1985, the philanthropic foundation has given emerging creative writers these grants. Previous winners have included: “Denis Johnson, Michael Cunningham, Alice McDermott, and Colson Whitehead. The complete list of winners follows after the jump.

GalleyCat was there, shooting video interviews with the winners and finding out more about Atwood’s recent foray into the world of Twitter. “It’s been quite a lot of fun. I can send out desperate tweets and 15 people will answer my question,” she explained after the ceremony. Twitter hadn’t corrupted her writing style, she concluded: “It’s a descendant of the telegram. Telegrams required succinctness because they charged by the word. It’s a message.”

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When Authors Turn Reclusive

In a piece that pretty much stems from Denis Johnson‘s blanket refusal to do any press whatsoever for his brand new (and long-awaited) novel TREE OF SMOKE, Scott Timberg at the LA Times investigates why authors of a certain age – Salinger, Pynchon, Lee, and other usual suspects – decided to shut themselves away from media and from publication and why that’s damn near impossible nowadays. Being a recluse can come off as arrogance, sensitivity, or a noble dissent, says Timberg — a high-minded refusal to engage with America’s culture of celebrity, erosion of privacy and self-promotion. It may be just the wishful fantasy that their books might arrive unmediated, might “speak for themselves.”

Arthur Salm, the book editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune, calls it common sense. “Reclusive writers are living perfectly reasonable lives,” he said. “The fact that they’re reclusive isn’t the phenomenon: The phenomenon is our reaction to the fact that they’re living normal lives. It has the opposite effect than what I think these writers want: People are intrigued by it. ‘My God — look!’ Your idea is to disappear and you end up with the spotlight on you.” But in the age of MySpace, Facebook and 24/7 celebrity coverage – not to mention the growing need for self-promotion to get any sort of attention – going the way of Denis Johnson is that much rarer.

“Everybody wants to be famous now,” said New Republic critic Lee Siegel, whose AGAINST THE MACHINE: BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF THE ELECTRONIC MOB comes out in January. “That’s what YouTube is about. Fame, for anyone who’s experienced it, is a calamity; you can see it in the faces of actors. People seem to not want a private life now — they’re dancing naked online — but with the recluse you see the most pristine and old-fashioned notion of how sacred a private life really is. And a writer, especially, needs to keep his interiority detached.” Which is why someone like Thomas Pynchon can keep his mystique (I’ve got my own deliberately far-fetched theories that a few drinks will pry out of me), because as David Kipen remarks, “It almost helps that there’s no interviews with Pynchon in print saying, ‘I like to sit around in my underwear and watch soap operas.’ Because we don’t want to know that.”