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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Gordon’

Claire Vaye Watkins Wins $20,000 Story Prize

Debut author Claire Vaye Watkins won the $20,000 Story Prize for Battleborn, a short story collection that spanned from the California gold rush to contemporary times.

The other finalists for the prize were Dan Chaon (for Stay Awake) and Junot Diaz (for This Is How You Lose Her).  They each received $5,000. Here’s more from the release:

Ms. Watkins is the ninth-ever winner of The Story Prize and the first woman to win the prestigious book award since Mary Gordon took the top prize for The Stories of Mary Gordon in 2007. The first woman to take the top prize was Edwidge Danticat for The Dew Breaker in 2005.

(Photo via Lily Glass)

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wowOwow Launches Books Campaign

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The website wowOwow has launched a new reading project called “Words Move Me,” asking readers and literary celebrities to explain which books inspire them. Editors Note: An earlier version of this post referenced a Sony Reader giveaway that has already ended.

If you need inspiration, here are of a few of this GalleyCat editor’s favorites. Salon.com senior writer Rebecca Traister confessed her love for Willa Cather‘s “My Antonia;” “Practical Magic” author Alice Hoffman cheered “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte; and finally, “Prospect Park West” author Amy Sohn explained her feelings for Mary Gordon‘s “Final Payments.”

Here’s a post from Judith Martin (Miss Manners) about the book that moves her: “For relief I turn to Henry James‘ “The Death of the Lion” for the best description of the sort of newspaper editor I used to work for…”

Matthew Lore Launches New Trade Publisher

experiment.jpgMatthew Lore, the former executive editor at Da Capo Press/Da Capo
Lifelong Books, will helm a new trade publisher. Named The Experiment, the company will focus on books about health, fitness, psychology, relationships, self-help, science, and the environment.

The press will launch with six titles this fall, including “Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child” by Mary Gordon and “Screw Cupid: The Sassy Girl’s Guide to Picking Up Hot Guys” by Samantha Scholfield.

Lore explained in a statement: “[H]aving worked in other people’s publishing companies for twenty years, I’m excited to set out, with two partners, as a new independent publisher. We’re called The Experiment because every book is a test of new ideas and because the curiosity and clear-headed thinking that characterize scientific experimentation are more crucial in publishing now than ever before.”

Scene @ the American Academy of Arts and Letters Annual Ceremonial

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What do Joan Acocella, Paul Auster, David Markson, Don DeLillo, John Updike, William Vollmann, Deborah Eisenberg, Stephen Sondheim, Reynolds Price, Richard Ford, Garrison Keillor, Jim Harrison, Mary Gordon, John Corigliano and many, many more luminaries in the literary, artistic and music worlds have in common? They all sat on the stage at the American Academy of Arts & Letters‘ Annual Ceremonial, held in the organization’s Harlem-area auditorium to honor the best and brightest in the arts. Some, like Gold Medal for Fiction winner Updike, have been members for nearly half a century; others, like Dana Spiotta, Junot Diaz, Tony D’Souza and Adam Rapp, received generous monetary awards honoring their recent writing-related outputs.

It may just be my own biased viewpoint that makes me think the Academy is a well-kept secret within the current state of the arts community, but then, it might not: while the turnout was strong, it was decidedly bereft of publishing professionals and those under the age of 35. And Academy President Ezra Laderman‘s opening remarks, highlighting how “we’re in an extraordinary time for the arts” thanks to questions about intellectual property, the decline of a proper arts curricula in any American school and eschewing artistic endeavors for market forces, had just the barest whiff of the old school. And yet it was remarkably clear how much the Academy, and its members, care about the arts and about ensuring that promising writers and artists continue the non-profit’s legacy, and how old school values produce a certain dignity that’s easy to admire. One need only listen to Updike’s spare remarks about how his induction into the Academy as its then-youngest member helped further his career by exposing him to peers as well as “magi-like writers” whom he revered. Bestowing awards onto Diaz and Spiotta is a step to the future, and I look with interest to see which younger writers the Academy recognizes from here on in.

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And the NBCC Awards Go To…

While NBCC Board member Rebecca Skloot liveblogged the awards, Ron and I sat through a somewhat speedy ceremony emceed by president John Freeman and highlighted by Mary Gordon‘s glowing retrospective and tribute (accompanied by retro Jill Krementz photography) to Sandrof winner John Leonard, followed by Leonard’s own words, a speech so filled with mirth, self-deprecation and reflections on present and past reviewing that I hope the transcript is made publicly available at some point. Nona Balakian winner Steven G. Kellman was a quote-a-minute, namechecking the gamut from H.L. Mencken (who had unkind words about criticism and even more scathing words about poetry – partly because of a volume he himself had written and then done everything in his power to squelch) to Lily Tomlin (“we’re all in this together – alone,” as applied to book critics, who Kellman quipped “are the only critics who can do their job in their underwear.”)

Then came the awards:

Criticism: Lawrence Weschler, EVERYTHING THAT RISES: A BOOK OF CONVERGENCES (McSweeney’s)
Poetry: Troy Jollimore, TOM THOMSON IN PURGATORY (Margie/Intuit House)
Non-Fiction: Simon Schama, ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, SLAVES AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (Ecco)
Biography: Julie Phillips
, JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON (St. Martin’s Press)
Autobiography: Daniel Mendelsohn, THE LOST (HarperCollins)
Fiction: Kiran Desai, THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS (Atlantic Monthly Press)

It’s an award winner list of some surprise – Jollimore’s win especially surprised the poetry faithful in the audience – and some that might have seemed like a surprise, like Desai, but on further reflection are just about right. Ron’s got more about notable quotes and the afterparty, but I’m especially happy to have chatted with John Leonard about his new prize, his belief that literary blogs are “where the passion is” and finding good books to read that might be off most people’s radar. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Mary Gordon Wins Story Prize 2006

Where there are literary awards, there is the Tishman Auditorium at the New School. And while the place wasn’t filled to full capacity, an enthusiastic crowd showed up for yesterday’s awards night, giving equal weight to bestowing its goblet prize and $20,000 cheque to winner Mary Gordon (for THE STORIES OF MARY GORDON) as to celebrating the short story. “It’s such an honor to accept an award for the short story, which is becoming somewhat of an endangered species,” Gordon said to open her acceptance speech, mentioning how many fine writers known for their story skills – like John Cheever, Katherine Ann Porter and Flannery O’Connor – all turned to novels because they were deemed to be the “real thing.”

But the readings by each of the three finalists and subsequent Q&As with Story Prize co-founder Larry Dark demonstrated the story’s ability to be real to the point of naturalistic (in the case of Rick Bass, reading “Her First Elk” from his collection THE LIVES OF ROCKS) or comically absurd (demonstrated with continued hilarity by Gordon’s “My Podiatrist Tells Me A Story About a Boy and a Dog” and George Saunders‘ speculative tale of a verbally idiosyncratic teen named “Jon”.) The biggest laugh came when Saunders admitted, upon Dark’s probing, that he does indeed laugh at his own writing, “but I never like to admit it because it’s absurd. Here’s this balding, middle-aged man reading something he likes and ‘oh isn’t this funny!’. It’s ridiculous.” What wasn’t ridiculous was how close the vote was; we understand judges Edwidge Danticat, Mitchell Kaplan and Ron Hogan had their work cut out for them, trying to decide between three excellent yet radically different collections—at least they only had three to deal with, after they’d been culled from a shortlist of 65 story collections that, in Dark’s words, were extremely difficult to pare down. “I actually had to stop reading short stories about two months before Larry gave us the finalists,” Ron said about his approach to the judging process, “because there was so many great collections coming out that I couldn’t think of any other way I’d be able to look at the actual nominees with a fresh set of eyes, not comparing them to everybody else. Since I’ve already read these three books, the first thing I’m going to do this weekend is finally crack open All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones, and then I’ve got at least six others lined up after that…”

The Story Prize Names its Finalists

Fiction collections by authors Mary Gordon, Rick Bass and George Saunders have been named finalists for the third annual Story Prize, given to the year’s outstanding book of short fiction. Bass was nominated for THE LIVES OF ROCKS (Houghton Mifflin), Gordon for THE STORIES OF MARY GORDON (Pantheon) and Saunders for IN PERSUASION NATION (Riverhead.) The winner, to be announced at an awards ceremony at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium on February 28, receives $20,000. Finalists will each be given $5,000.

GalleyCat‘s own Ron Hogan was one of the three judges (along with author Edwidge Danticat and Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan) and has dipped into each of these collections, along with many other potential candidates, as they’ve been published over the last several months. “I’m looking forward to devoting a lot more time to these three authors in the following weeks,” Hogan said, “and I’m glad I’ve got two other well-informed judges to help make what will undoubtedly be a tough decision.”