Wednesday, April 18, 2012
ALL 'LIT' UP : From The Editor's Desk
This week there was no Pulitzer awarded for fiction. I am as disappointed as the rest of my writer friends, both established and those still toiling to have their voices heard. Most writers are of this latter category, but what is unique about the community of writers is their ability to root for one another. Writers are outraged by this year's non-Pulitzer for fiction, because we have a sense of community which allows us to put aside our own personal dreams and ambitions to champion other authors, poets, and publishers. The decision to not award a Pulitzer acts as a collective slap in the face to all those who dream to simply have their work read. Seeing writers around the country and around the world rally to the defense of the finalists, whose work was not deemed prize-worthy, is evidence that the written word is alive and well and reinforces the notion that we have always been our own best advocates. Writers are readers and in the end it is this audience we feel not sympathy for, but empathy with for this missed opportunity by the folks at Pulitzer to be with us, not against us. Each year brings a new variety of fiction which manages to cater to a wide audience with increasingly eclectic tastes and the message that not a single work of fiction was good enough to be acknowledged says more about the process and the people behind it than it does about the books that didn't win. The authors of those books won something more important than the acknowledgement of a few outsiders, they won the admiration of readers and writers everywhere who at a minimum may just be curious enough to seek out these three very different works ("Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson, "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell, and "The Pale King" by David Foster Wallace) just to see what all the hub-bub was all about or not about in the case of the Pulitzer board which chose to simply not champion fiction for readers everywhere. Three very deserving writers lost out in this year the people at Pulitzer yawned rather than shouted for fiction writing and writers, but I believe the community of writers and readers, who are one in the same, won anyway. Read these three books and judge for yourself - that is the only measure of worth that matters.
"Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson
"Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell
"The Pale King" by David Foster Wallace