Ten Random Observations from the National Book Awards

The semi-serious writeups are here, but since formal dress brings out my irreverent side, here we go:

  1. Jonathan Lethem & Christopher Sorrentino + British and Irish accents respectively = Mark Billingham & John Connolly. It’s that BFF thing, I tell you.

  2. I scored a copy of OCTAVIAN NOTHING but I can’t wait to read all five of the Young People’s nominees.

  3. Crime writers had a really good turnout – not just Jess Walter but Edgar-award winning YA author Nancy Werlin, too.

  4. John Freeman: still looks like Nick Lachey.

  5. How is it that Fran Leibowitz can be so funny and so unfunny at the same time?

  6. I want to get poetry (to Craig T. for suggesting W.S. Merwin as a way in, thank you) but I’m not sure tonight’s representatives did the job.

  7. The award itself is damn heavy. I wouldn’t want to carry one home. Or take it through customs.

  8. Press food: exactly the same as last year, even down to the placement and selection of desserts. Freaky.

  9. Will I ever know what Hillel Italie looks like?

  10. And yes, the shriek heard in the balcony when Richard Powers won was moi. Because even though it turned out to be a bit of a double-edged sword, this is such a victory for what the National Book Awards are all about: the excitement and passion that results from reading a truly amazing book that stretches boundaries beyond one’s capabilities. And even though this is another rant – or essay – for another time, why on earth would you get involved in book criticism or literary journalism of any kind if you don’t care what you cover? So I do think last night was an indication of people caring a great deal. And that makes me happy.