2 Pulitzer Prize Winning Books That Look Like They Don’t Suck

What may be surprising to many is that a pulitzer-prize-winning book isn’t necessarily a bestselling book.  What makes a book great to the general public isn’t necessarily what makes a book great within the smaller circle of the literary world.

Add to that the fact that my tastes, as an average reader, tend to be rather specific in genre (paranormal, horror, fantasy, sci-fi), and you can see why I won’t be making my way through the pulitzer list any time soon.

However, after searching long and hard through a list of previous pulitzer winners, I did find 2 books that  look accessible even to someone of my usually jaded, mass-market tastes.

1. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (1969): 

Description:  “He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust.”

I was especially drawn to this book after reading this quote that an amazon reader included in their review:

“Dypaloh. There was a house made of dawn. It was made of pollen and of rain, and the land was very old and everlasting. There were many colors on the hills, and the plain was bright with different colored clays and sands.”

Momoday is also a poet laureate who was born on a Kiowa reservation in Oklahoma.  The publication of this book in the 60’s was a huge breakthrough for Native American writers.  To learn more about this author, see his interview with Modern American Poetry or read some of his poems at PoemHunter.com.

2. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (1979):

Description:  “These stories seem at times to be stories of a long-lost world when the city of New York was still filled with a river light, when you heard the Benny Goodman quartets from a radio in the corner stationary store, and when almost everybody wore a hat. Here is the last of that generation of chain smokers who woke the world in the morning with their coughing, who used to get stoned at cocktail parties and perform obsolete dance steps like ‘the Cleveland Chicken,’ set sail for Europe on ships, who were truly nostalgic for love and happiness…”

This book is a collection of short stories.  Here’s a little bit from a story called The Enourmous Radio:

“Irene was proud of her living room, she had chosen its furnishings and colors as carefully as she chose her clothes, and now it seemed to her that the new radio stood among her intimate possessions like an aggressive intruder. She was confounded by the number of dials and switches on the instrument panel, and she studied them thoroughly before she put the plug into a wall socket and turned the radio on.  The dials flooded with a malevolent green light…”

Cheever had an interesting but sad life.  He was once kicked out of a school for smoking, his education ended when he was 17, his father abandoned the family after losing everything in the stock market crash, and his mother drank herself to death.  Find out more about this author by reading his biography or read quotes by the author at BrainyQuote.com, including gems like this one:

“When I remember my family, I always remember their backs. They were always indignantly leaving places.”

If you’ve read either of these books, or even if you haven’t but think they look interesting, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Writers Conference Quotes, Fan Wu

Lovely guest speaker this morning at the Southern California Writers Conference by the name of Fan Wu.  Here are some quotes I jotted down during her presentation:

“Edit your manuscript like it’s written by your worst enemy.”

“If you write well and you have some substance, you will resonate with other minds and hearts.”

“Looking for an agent is not very easy; sometimes it’s harder than finding the perfect husband or wife.”

Attending Writers Conference

Hi, everyone. I’m attending the Southern California Writers’ Conference for the next couple of days. This is my first writers conference, so I had no idea what to expect. I’ll be posting updates about my experiences on Twitter if you want to know what’s going on (twitter.com/mewritewords).

Answer Me When I Send Text Messages… (Poem)

Love this opening line from J. Mae Barizo’s poem, Anthelion:

Answer me when I send text messages that make no sense but which
Notate ever so delicately the names of things not said.

Read the full poem as well as other work from this author which appears in the current issue of online alternative poetry journal, ditch.

Picture Poems

Found this cool website of “picture poems” — poems written on or about pictures. I think the visual provides an added depth to the poems. I’m working on a poetry site right now, and I plan to do something similar.

Unfortunately, some of the links are old, but you can still find a lot of cool stuff here if you look around.  I especially liked I Bet on a Racehorse by Terrell Adsit Neuage.

Facebook Catches 3 Criminals from Around the World

People often criticize social media and the web in general, but here is proof that the internet, and specifically Facebook, is making the world a better place…

1. Thief Caught Leaving Facebook Open: Some idiot in Pennsylvania logs into Facebook while in the middle of a robbery and forgets to log out.  (Which leaves me wondering–why not just take the computer?)

2. Facebook Foils Bike Thief: An 11-year-old kid in New York get his bike stolen and turns his city into a giant neighborhood watch via Facebook and gets his bike back.

3. Police Ask Facebook Fans to Identify a Thief: Some inept burglar takes his mask off during a heist and police in New Zealand catch him by posting his face all over Facebook.

Which just goes to show you, when used correctly, this inter-web thingy can be really cool.

Haiku (Idol’s Behavior Less than Idyllic)

you’re not who I thought
when I put you up there–give
back my pedestal

by Edie Montgomery-Pool

This haiku was inspired by an experience a friend had. She met an American Idol who turned out to be not at all like their “nice person” image. It sounded like the fame went to their head. Hopefully that person will get a better grasp on things eventually and turn themselves around.

My friend met a lot of other American Idols who were just as awesomely cool as you would expect them to be.

Although the poem was inspired by them, it’s not just about that one person — it could be about anyone. I wanted to portray what it feels like when you think highly of someone only to be let down by them.  I think everyone has experienced that feeling at least once in their life.

Wow, that was a lot of discussion for one tiny, little haiku. Did not set out to ramble on like that – LOL.