The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 27, 2012

Lee Duran: Pulitzer pulls the plug on 2011 fiction

JOPLIN, Mo. — The world of books is down on the Pulitzer Prize award selection committee, not because of a lousy pick for the fiction prize but for no pick at all -- the 11th time this has happened. Most recent was 1977.

Publishers Weekly reports “collective outrage of the publishing world” over failure to choose one of three nominees from the award selection committee: “The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace, “Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson and “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell.

No prize was awarded because the board could not produce a majority vote for a single work.

One of the jury members who helped pick the nominees told NPR that she was “shocked, angry, and very disappointed.”

The New York Times quoted the Pulitizer administrator who said, that failure to award the prize is “not meant to be a statement about fiction in general. It’s just a statement that none was able to receive a majority.”

The board does not explain their reasons for choosing, or not choosing, a winner.

A Pulitzer boosts the sales of winners. Because none were chosen in fiction this year, publishers of potential winners are understandably upset.

Example from PW: A sales boom has been a sure thing for winners. Last year’s winner, “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan, tripled its weekly sales for a three-month period following the win.

E-book soundtracks        

Would you like music while reading your e-book? A New York start-up called Booktrack is publishing e-books with music.

According to the New York Times, Booktrack intends to “change the landscape of e-book reading by adding soundtracks to accompany stories with a more cinematic scope.”

I’m all for innovation but this sounds nutty to me. If we want music with our books, it’s easy to get it on our own. I’m confident that whatever they chose to accompany the book would not be what I would want to hear.

A few authors have already experimented with musical books without much success, James Patterson and Jody Picoult to name but two. Booktrack thinks it can do better.

Their product, they say, is better partly because the music plays at the pace of the individual reader and can be paused or adjusted with a touch of the screen. I am now envisioning music that sounds good at any speed. I fail in this effort.

E-books with music cost more which I predict won’t help sales.


Authors assemble

Lots of book things are going on in my relatively new hometown of Neosho. Being a book lover, I’m naturally involved.

An Authors Faire will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Neosho High School Atrium. It is sponsored by the Neosho-Newton County Friends of the Library.

Four States authors have been invited to participate -- among them, me. Last year I heard about the event and went as an observer. Authors sat at individual tables with their books, brochures and whatever. I browsed through, talking to many, examining the books and entering a drawing for an e-book, which I won.

Then each author spoke to the group, telling us a little about themselves and their path to publication. The Friends provided refreshments. I enjoyed it greatly and am pleased to participate this year. Everyone’s invited to attend.

Speaking of the Friends, I’m the new secretary of the group. I was kind of drafted by Friends president Bonnie Derryberry. When Bonnie comes calling, protest is useless.

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