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|REVIEWS OF PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING FICTION
STAGE 2: 1917-1948
- 2004: The Known World (Edward P. Jones)
This book was received on interlibrary loan from Sydney U's Fisher Library, who recalled it after 2 days - despite the exorbitant fee charged for their "express service". Being some 600 plus pages long, it was a little difficult to finish in that time. However, another copy was obtained from the South Sydney Institute (TAFE) Library, who were happy to loan it for the whole two weeks with the option of renewal.
However, it wasn't really worth the trouble. On the theme of southern US slavery - which should have been a narrative-rich experience - the writing was textually dense, character development flat, dialog lacking authenticity, and quite dreary reading. The flow was interrupted by disjointed statements, quoted at length in text, on the sources of information quoted.
Perhaps the award judges were impressed by its "unusual" approach to fiction? WLW recommends this book to chronic insomniacs who are unable to take prescription medicines and are lactose intolerant.[September, 2004]
- 2003: Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides)
The title was originally a "turn-off", as it was reminiscent of an outer suburb of London. The intertexuality suggested a suburban soap theme. The central premise was, in fact, the story of a hermaphrodite.
A cleverly crafted insight into the personal journey of an individual, with an apparently not uncommon medical condition, the scientific background was interlaced with the narrative so it was informative but unobtrusive.
In summary, this extensive tome was a 'good read', and is recommended for those with an interest in humanity. [September, 2004]
- 2002: Empire Falls (Richard Russo)
Damn it, again! Thought this one was going to be a neo-classical type Roman-ish costume-drama-in-text thingy. Pleasantly surprised to find it was a disfunctional-family in rural community story. Sort of Dynasty meets Little House on the Prairie type of plot, minus the Waltons but with a Carrington-equivalent family. A good read, although the 600+ pages in 8 point font was a challenge. [October, 2004]
- 2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Michael Chabon)
The Armidale Campus [of the New England Institute of TAFE] Library generously lent this book. Interestingly, the type setting for these 636 pages was Walbaum, a typeface designed in 1810 by German punch cutter J.E. Walbaum. According to the endnotes, " ... Walbaum type is more French than German in appearance, and like Bodoni, it is a classical typeface - yet its openness and slight irregularities give it a human, romantic quality."
An abundance of footnoted references to original source material was a little confusing. This is the Pulitzer Prize for FICTION, is it not? But a reasonable read, especially suited for digestion during the T.V. off-season - particularly for those with an interest in the evolution of the graphic novel-slash-comic book. Nah, I'm joking. Just comics, really. [October, 2004]
- 2000: Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)
Huge thanks to the Port Macquarie Campus (of the North Coast Institute of TAFE) Library for this loan. The size of this particular tome was a pleasant surprise - a slim volume, but packed with quality writing. I'd quite forgotten the joys of anthologies, and initially was surprised to find a Pulitzer awarded for a collection of short stories. Rather than a twenty-course baccinalian feast of words, this was a light buffet of literary delicacies, that left one intellectually sated without the bloated discomfort of overindulgence. [October, 2004]
- 1999: The Hours (Michael Cunningham)
According to the back cover of this edition, lent by the good folk at the Bradfield College Library in Crow's Nest (Sydney), Guardian describes this book as 'an absorbingly moving triptych beautifully crafted across three time frames - from Woolf's 1920s Richmond to 1990s Manhattan'. And I guess they should know what they're talking about.
However, all that disjointed jumping about not only between different parts of the time-space continuum, but also in and out of the minds of three different characters made this less than a pleasurable read. Frankly, it was hard work. But the use of language was incredibly elegant, if somewhat prolix. But it's somehow reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who constructs sentences of over 50 words![October 2004]
- 1998: American Pastoral (Philip Roth)
A paragraph at random: There was plenty of haranguing to ensure obedience; the adolescent capacity for upheaval was held in check by a thousand requirements, stipulations, prohibitions - restraints that proved insuperable. One was our highly realistic appraisal of what was most in our interest, another was the preservative rectitude of the era, whose taboos we'd taken between our teeth at birth; not least was the enacted ideology of parental self-sacrifice that bled us of wanton rebelliousness and sent underground almot every indecent urge.
Similtaneously with reading Roth's work, another book - that I was enjoying to a far greater degree had (at random):While he had been weltering, hooling and thurling, the distance beneath him had not bothered him unduly, but now that he was gripping, the distance made his heart wilt and his brain bend. His fingers were white with pain and tension. His teeth were grinding and twisting against each other beyond his control. His eyes turned inwards with waves from the willowing extemities of nausea. (Douglas Adams)
Reader, whether you be gentle or pugilistic, which of the above two paragraphs provides the most affective engagement? Which has used language to paint the most graphic picture? Which one is not a precursor to migraine?
It is almost with embarrassment that I note that the National Art School - East Sydney College Library went to the trouble and expense of ILLing this book, when I obviously can't recommend it to anyone except entomologists or people who have misplaced their thesaurus. Admittedly, that last statement is not fair. Many a happy hour has been passed, trawling through a thesaurus. [November 2004]
- 1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Steven Millhauser)
Thanks to North Sydney TAFE Library for the ILL, which enabled many hours of enjoyable reading. The plot was specifically linear, with only the occassional flashback - and those were in context and appropriate.
The textual constructs flowed naturally, and there was no sense of the Millhauser trying to find space to jam in as many literary devices as were listed in some obscure textbook about how to write Pulitzer-prize literature. Or fiction. Although maybe the development of some climactic incident would have been nice. Or even an anticlimactic one. [November, 2004]
- 1996: Independence Day (Richard Ford)
I'm sorry Mr Ford. Maybe it was the fact that I tried to read this work over the holiday period, when so much was happening, and it was difficult to find a series of suitable blocks of time. Or maybe I'm just not enough "into" the dreary life of divorced real estate agents with girlfriends on the side. Perhaps I need to revisit this work another time.
But Bradfield College Library came to the rescue, once again, with their excellent interlibrary loan service. Thanks, guys. [December 2004]
- 1995: The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
Although the theme of aging, generational gaps and relationships, and sexual implications is pretty well worked over, this really wasn't too bad a read after all.
Seems like Bradfield College Library must have a brilliant collection of literature, which is made even more valuable by their willingness to share. [January 2005].
- 1994: The Shipping News (E. Annie Proulx)
Missed the movie on cable, which aired a few days before the book arrived on ILL - yes, again, from Bradfield College Library. Despite the age of the book, it was in almost mint condition. The Bradfield must have either an extraordinary preservation strategy, or a cadre of careful borrowers.
So, how was the book? Pretty good. An interesting context (Newfoundland); character development was credible and pertinant; narrative style not excessively demanding. [February 2005]
- 1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (Robert Olen Butler) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1992 A Thousand Acres (Jane Smiley) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1991 Rabbit At Rest (John Updike) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (Oscar Hijuelos) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1989 Breathing Lessons (Anne Tyler) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1988 Beloved (Toni Morrison)
Judging by the movie based on this book, the review of the novel may be downgraded in priority.
- 1987 A Summons to Memphis (Peter Taylor) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1986 Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1985 Foreign Affairs (Alison Lurie) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1984 Ironweed (William Kennedy) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1983 The Color Purple (Alice Walker) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1982 Rabbit Is Rich (John Updike) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1981 A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1980 The Executioner's Song (Norman Mailer) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1979 The Stories of John Cheever (John Cheever) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1978 Elbow Room (James Alan McPherson) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1977 (No Award)
- 1976 Humboldt's Gift (Saul Bellow) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1975 The Killer Angels (Michael Shaara) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1974 (No Award)
- 1973 The Optimist's Daughter (Eudora Welty) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1972 Angle of Repose (Wallace Stegner) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1971 (No Award)
- 1970 Collected Stories (Jean Stafford) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1969 House Made of Dawn (N. Scott Momaday) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1968 The Confessions of Nat Turner (William Styron) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1967 The Fixer (Bernard Malamud) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1966 Collected Stories (Katherine Anne Porter) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1965 The Keepers Of The House (Shirley Ann Grau) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1964 (No Award)
- 1963 The Reivers (William Faulkner) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1962 The Edge of Sadness (Edwin O'Connor) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1961 To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1960 Advise and Consent (Allen Drury) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1959 The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (Robert Lewis Taylor) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1958 A Death In The Family (James Agee) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1957 (No Award)
- 1956 Andersonville (MacKinlay Kantor) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1955 A Fable (William Faulkner) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1954 (No Award) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1953: The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)
Any possible literary enjoyment that might have been obtained from this work was completely destroyed by a formal "study" of it during high school. Having been dissected, analyzed, eulogized, and scrutinized to the nth degree, it will be interesting to revisit the novel from a fresh perspective. Eventually. [September, 2004]
- 1952 The Caine Mutiny (Herman Wouk) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1951 The Town (Conrad Richter) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1950 The Way West (A. B. Guthrie, Jr) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1949 Guard of Honor (James Gould Cozzens) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
- 1948 Tales of the South Pacific (James A. Michener) REVIEW IN PREPARATION
(the award was given as the "Pulitzer Prize for Novel")
- 1947 All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
- 1946 (No Award)
- 1945 A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
- 1944 Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin
- 1943 Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair
- 1942 In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow
- 1941 (No Award)
- 1940 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- 1939 The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
- 1938 The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand
- 1937 Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- 1936 Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis
- 1935 Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson
- 1934 Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
- 1933 The Store by T. S. Stribling
- 1932 The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
- 1931 Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes
- 1930 Laughing Boy by Oliver Lafarge
- 1929 Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin
- 1928 The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
- 1927 Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield
- 1926 Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
- 1925 So Big by Edna Ferber
- 1924 The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson
- 1923 One of Ours by Willa Cather
- 1922 Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington
- 1921 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- 1920 (No Award)
- 1919 The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
- 1918 His Family by Ernest Poole
- 1917 (No Award)
A.B.Credaro © 2004