Thursday, November 20, 2008

What National Book Awards?

I buy and read more books than anyone I know, and I also keep up with the major book reviews (other than Publishers' Weekly). I am thus at a loss to explain how I did not know that the National Book Awards were last night and--worse--that I am familiar with so few of the books that won or were finalists. In fiction I have Marilynne Robinson's Home, though I haven't yet read it. I also have 2/3 of the books that were re-written or condensed into Peter Matthiessen's The Shadow Country, which won the award for fiction. I read Killing Mr. Watson (1990), the first in the series, but in the interim between buying Lost Man's River (1997)--the second in the trilogy--and reading it, I met Matthiessen and swore off reading any more of his books. Proir to this morning's paper, I had not even heard of the other finalists in fiction.

Among the finalists in poetry, I have (and have read) only Frank Bidart's Watching the Spring Festival. I did not know that winner Mark Doty had a New and Collected out. I do have most--if not all--of his earlier work. I will buy Reginald Gibbons' Creatures of a Day, both because I like him and because he's on the faculty at Warren Wilson.

I have heard of all of the nonfiction finalists, but haven't read any of them.

It seems I am more "out of it" than I'd like to admit.


Blogger Keith said...

The Gibbons book is great.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I too have read most of Mark's earlier books, but not the one that won. And I love the Bidart book, but I haven't read any of the other poetry finalists. Yikes!
I too pride myself on the sheer volume of contemporary poetry I read so I am a tad dismayed.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Cindy Hunter Morgan said...

I didn't know this either, until I heard the NPR story about it this morning. And I sat in my car thinking, "How didn't I know this?" It sounded like quite a party.

5:23 PM  

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