Sick day remainders

  • Tomorrow the BBC will announce the winner of the 2004 Man Booker Prize, despite cooling relations between prize organizers and broadcasters:

    Blamed for the rift is BBC4’s “people’s jury” (“those bizarre people”, as one insider sniffs), picking their own winner in what some see as a step towards Richard and Judy-fication. Besides choosing a panel who “prefer TV and computer games to reading fiction”, the BBC has also caused tut-tutting by scheduling their choice of winner (from a short-list with only one title in common with the official last six) just before the proper prize. It’ll end in tears.

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  • In the weekend’s New York Times Book Review, Edward Wyatt notes the vast publicity received by shortlisted Man Booker Prize contenders — a striking contrast with the “relative ineffectiveness of the National Book Award in publicizing new American literature.”
  • Meanwhile, Scott McLemee considers the nomination of the 9/11 Commission’s report for this year’s National Book Award, quotes Hegel, and argues that it is “troubling, over the long run, to realize that no other book of investigative journalism [save Seymour Hersh’s] comes to mind as a candidate.”
  • The Lonely Doll, a children’s book first published in 1957, evidently served as a formative story for many artistic women, including Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. But on rereading the book as adults, some women, like Gordon, found it so creepy and depressing they were reluctant to share it with their children. Now Jean Nathan’s new biography of the author, Dare Wright, “details Ms. Wright’s unwholesomely close relationships with her mother and brother, and also shows that she bore a resemblance to the heroine of her books.”
  • Kurt Vonnegut relays his last conversation with “out-of-print science fiction writer Kilgore Trout.” Trout later “committed suicide by drinking Drano at midnight on October 15 in Cohoes, New York, after a female psychic using tarot cards predicted that the environmental calamity George W. Bush would once again be elected president of the most powerful nation on the planet by a five-to-four decision of the Supreme Court.”

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